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I Built This Home For Me, For You

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            “I’m home!”

 

            Lena heard the distant shout from downstairs and she smiled brightly, pushing back the chair at her desk and crossing the office. Yanking open the door, she slipped out into the hall and shut the door behind her, rubbing at her tired eyes from staring at the computer screen all evening. Quickly walking downstairs, she smiled at the sight of Kara hanging up her coat, and walked over to her with her hands outstretched. Cupping Kara’s face in her hands, she gave her a lingering kiss, before pulling back. “Welcome home, how was work?”

 

            “Long,” Kara sighed, even though she looked happy.

 

            Lena wrinkled her nose and smiled, leaning in to kiss her wife again, taking her bag off her and dropping it to the ground.

 

            “God, do you have to kiss her like that every time she comes home?” a voice said from the top of the stairs, and both of them whirled around, taking in the sight of their eldest daughter dragging her feet as she walked downstairs.

 

            Sighing, Lena raised her eyebrows at her daughter and stepped away from Kara, “come say hi to your mom.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Daisy jumped off the bottom step and walked over to Kara, hunching her shoulders slightly and almost pulling away as she let Kara kiss her on the cheek. “Good day at school, Dais?” Kara asked, getting an indistinguishable mumble in reply, before Daisy shuffled off towards the kitchen.

 

            Before either of them could say anything, there was loud footsteps running down the stairs, and they looked at the other darkhaired girl bounding towards them. “Careful Lils,” Kara laughed, but the younger girl didn’t slow down, she just ran straight towards Kara, throwing her arms around her and tilting her head up and to the side to let Kara kiss her on the cheek.

 

            “Hi mom, what’s for dinner?” Lily asked, giving Kara a hopeful look, “can we get pizza?”

 

            Laughing, Lena smoothed her dark curls and gave her a gentle push towards the kitchen. “I’ll go and order some, and you can go and make sure your sister’s finished her homework. You better have done yours too.”

 

            The two of them watched as Lily raced off towards the kitchen, and Lena smiled while Kara laughed, shaking her head. She bent her head a little to kiss Lena on the cheek, before following after them both. Lena fished her phone out of her pocket and dialled the nearest pizza place, placing an order as she followed after the rest of her family at a slower pace. Walking into the kitchen, she took in the sight of Kara rummaging in the fridge for food, passing things out to the two girls crowded around her, and Lena shook her head as she let out a snort of laughter; they really were their mother’s daughter’s.

 

            “How was school, girl’s?” Kara asked, taking a bite out of a slice of salami as she kicked the fridge door shut, her arms filled with food.

 

            “Daisy got detention again,” Lily blurted out, letting out a yelp of pain as Daisy reached over and punched her in the arm.

 

            Lena sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as she walked further in and dropped down onto a chair at the table. “Don’t hit your sister,” she scolded her eldest daughter, giving her an admonishing look, and Daisy just rolled her eyes, slouching in her chair as she sat down and crossed her arms over her chest. “What did you do this time?”

 

            Kara walked over and clamped her hands on Daisy’s shoulders, giving them a quick reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry, I’ve already spoken to the headmistress. It was just a bit of talking back to her teacher, which isn’t going to happen again. Right Dais?”

 

            “Come on, Daisy, you’re already still grounded from last week’s detention,” Lena sighed, “can you just behave, please?”

 

            Daisy spluttered, gesturing helplessly, “it’s not my fault, mom! I just … they’re stupid!”

 

            “I know you’re smart, love, but you need to behave yourself, or you won’t get into a good college if you’re expelled,” Kara said, bending down to kiss Daisy on the top of her dark head. Lena bit back a smile at the brooding look on her daughter’s face, and the flicker of annoyance in her blue eyes.

 

            “It’s not like mom can’t just buy your way in anyway,” Lily laughed, and Lena turned to look at her youngest daughter, raising her eyebrows slightly. “Yeah, I know, mom – money is a privilege, not an excuse to slack off. It’s fine, I’ll get into college with my good grades.”

 

            “Don’t get cheeky, Lils,” Kara warned her, smiling at Lena over the top of Daisy’s head and jerking her head towards Lily, as if to say that she got it all from Lena. Rolling her eyes, Lena shook her head slightly. She couldn’t even argue with Kara, because she was sure that both of the girls got their sarcasm and stubbornness from her.

 

            The four of them told each other about their day as they waited for the pizza to arrive, bickering, complaining and laughing as they sat around the table. A knock on the door made Lena climb to her feet, slipping out of the kitchen and fetching her purse from her handbag hanging on the coat rack near the door. The delivery guy looked bored as he stood with a stack of pizzas in hand, and Lena handed over a few notes and took them off him with a quick thanks, before she shut the door. Dropping her purse back into her bag, she carried the boxes to the kitchen and set them down on the table, smoothing Lily’s hair as she walked to the kitchen to make some drinks for everyone.

 

            “So we have to be there at six tomorrow,” Daisy said, and Lena listened with interest as she set the glasses down on the table.

 

            “What’s this about?” she asked, sitting down and plucking a slice of pizza from the box, raising her eyebrows as she looked at Daisy.

 

            Her daughter gave her an expectant look, “my piano recital. You said you’d be there.” Lena choked slightly on her mouthful of pizza as she realised she’d forgotten and had arranged a meeting tomorrow with the CEO of a big company she was hoping to close a deal with. Daisy laughed and shook her head, “you forgot again, didn’t you?”

 

            “No, no, of course I haven’t!” Lena quickly reassured her, “of course I’m going to be there. Have I ever missed one yet?”

 

            “No, but you forget every time,” Daisy grumbled, pouting slightly as she picked at her food.

 

            “Hey, mom said she’ll be there, so she’ll be there,” Kara said, giving her a loving smile, “now stop picking at your food and eat. You need to go and finish your homework and get to bed early tonight; your mom’s got a meeting in the morning and she can’t be late. I can’t drive you either, I’ve got to meet your grandma in the morning.”

 

            Huffing, Daisy took a bite out of the pizza and scowled, “wouldn’t be a problem if you’d let me drive to school.”

 

            “No,” Lena firmly said, “we’ve talked about this, love. I don’t want you driving in the city – there’s too much traffic about.”

 

            “Well why can’t you just get us a driver then? Grandma said you used to have one.”

 

            “Well how about you start taking the school bus? There’s nothing wrong with the school bus,” Kara protested, “I took the bus to school. It was fun!”

 

            Lily laughed, wrinkling her nose at Kara, “it’s not fun, mom. People are annoying, and the bus is gross. Besides, I like it when you drive us to school.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Daisy huffed, “well, you’re a weirdo anyway, but it’s embarrassing to have my mom drop me off at school. None of my other friends do.”

 

            Lena sighed, “Grandma also sent me to private school; would you like me to send you away too?”

 

            “I might,” Daisy snarkily replied.

 

            “Okay, that’s enough,” Lena sternly told her, “I’m driving you to school tomorrow, I’ll be at the piano recital, and you’ll stop talking back to your teachers or your mom and I will ground you again.” They all fell into silence, and Lena met Kara’s stare, shrugging helplessly, and sighing at Kara’s pointed look. “Mom and I will talk about getting you a driver.” Kara gave her a warm smile, her eyes crinkling at the corners in the way that Lena loved, and she gave her a soft smile in return, feeling her heart flutter.

 

---

 

            “I really need to get a new secretary,” Lena grumbled as she pulled back the bedcovers and slipped underneath them, “this is the third time Alana’s forgotten to tell me about one of the girls’ things, and now I’m going to have cancel the meeting with Cat Grant, and we all know she’s notorious for her snarky attitude. God, I miss Jess.”

 

            “Well she was too good to stay as your assistant forever. I mean, it’s been fourteen years, love,” Kara laughed as she took her glasses off and joined Lena in bed, “what’re you meeting with Cat Grant for though? Does she want to run another article on the new software?” Lena hesitated, pausing for just a little bit too long, which didn’t slip Kara’s attention. She grimaced slightly as Kara rolled over onto her stomach, propping her chin in her hand and raising her eyebrows expectantly. “Lena,” she said in a wheedling tone, and Lena sighed, reaching out to cup her wife’s face in her hand.

 

            Pressing her lips together in a line, Lena frowned slightly as she ran her thumb over Kara’s high cheekbone, smiling when her wife reached up to smooth away the frown lines. “Okay, fine. I’m, uh, in the middle of buying up shares for CatCo.”

 

            Kara narrowed her eyes slightly, “how many shares?”

 

            Clearing her throat, Lena carelessly shrugged and avoided looking into Kara’s eyes, “potentially … over half.”

 

            “Lena! You’re buying a company and you didn’t tell me?” Kara quietly exclaimed, not wanting to wake the girls up.

 

            “Well not the whole company darling, just the majority, but I was waiting to see how it all worked out before I told you. Besides, you said you didn’t want to be involved in the business,” Lena reasonably argued.

 

            “Yeah, but I thought you’d tell me something this big,” Kara said, pouting slightly.

 

            Lena smiled at the pout, leaning over to give her a gentle kiss, “well it might fall through at this point. I need more hours in the day; who knew being a mom and managing a business was so hard. No wonder my mom was shit at it.”

 

            Kara laughed, shaking her head as she gazed lovingly up at Lena, “well, for the record, you’re a fantastic mother, and I love you.”

 

            “I love you too,” Lena told her, “and it’s not like I could be as bad as my mom was. She set the bar pretty low, but we really need to do something about Daisy. I’m worried, Kara. This is the fifth time she’s got detention this month. I don’t know why she’s behaving like this.”

 

            “It’s because she’s a teenager,” Kara laughed, “she’s seventeen, honey.”

 

            “Were you like this when you were seventeen?” Lena asked, raising her eyebrows and smiling slightly, waiting for the answer she knew was coming.

 

            Kara gave her a small smile, “well, no, I was perfectly well behaved. Were you like this?”

 

            Giving her a sheepish smile, Lena sighed, “no, I was a thousand times worse. You know that things with me were different though; Daisy’s just … I don’t know, spoilt? Do you think we spoil them too much? Lily’s not nearly half as bad as her.”

 

            “Lily is fourteen, and you know that this has nothing to do with the fact that you spoil them rotten. She’s just … being a teenager, love. Don’t worry about her too much; she’s just being rebellious and all of that. Besides, she could have detention every day from now until she graduates and still come nowhere near your record for detentions.”

 

            “Well I’m hardly a good role model,” Lena snorted, brushing Kara’s hair out of her face.

 

            “They think you are,” Kara said, giving her a soft smile, “and so do I. They don’t know the whole story though. Maybe you should-“

 

            Lena closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, “you know I don’t want them to know about that, Kara. It doesn’t matter anymore, and it’ll just … confuse them. My mom’s nice now, and she dotes on them – I don’t want them to think of her as cold and distant; I don’t want to think of her like that anymore. Besides, if you think that I should explain everything, then you should too. We promised we’d tell them together when they were older.”

 

            Sighing, Kara rolled onto her back and rested her head against Lena’s shoulder, “how am I supposed to tell them that I almost died?”

 

            “I don’t know,” Lena murmured, wrapping her arms around Kara and holding her tightly, almost as if to reassure herself that Kara was fine.

 

            It had been years, but sometimes it still made Lena panic, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever get over the fact that she could’ve lost Kara at the beginning. Twenty-one years, and Lena still couldn’t let go of the past, and twenty years of a peaceful and quiet life hadn’t made her forget about everything they’d endured during that first year. They’d had their ups and downs, their arguments and fights, but marriage and motherhood had been more perfect than Lena could ever have imagined – which wasn’t hard, given her previous opinions on them – but there was so much that they didn’t talk about anymore. Part of it was because they both wanted the girls to be happy and not have to deal with their past, but it was also their way of trying to move on too. Sometimes it would come back and hit them, and it would be hard for them both, but they’d built a home together, and they knew that nothing could get in the way of that. Not even their past.

Chapter Text

            She was doing the crossword at the table when Kara came into the kitchen, yawning widely as she walked over to the coffee pot and fetched a cup. Lena smiled, filling in the answer to six down, “morning.”


            “You got up early. How’d you sleep?” Kara asked, carrying the pot over to the table and filling up Lena’s cup for her.


            Smiling up at her wife, Lena pulled Kara close by the bottom of her shirt, leaning up as much as she could for a kiss, which Kara obliging pressed to her lips. “Very well, I was just prepping for the meetings today. You look like you could’ve used a few more hours though.”


            “You were sleep talking,” Kara laughed, running her fingers through her awry curls. “I couldn’t help but listen.”


            “What’d I say this time?” Lena sighed, biting back a smile.


            Kara laughed, sitting down at the table and stealing some bacon off Lena’s plate. Pushing her chair back, Lena pressed a kiss to the top of Kara’s head and walked to the kitchen to reheat the bacon that she’d already fried up. “You said you loved me - I always love that one - and then you said that you can only stop them with bread, which was ... concerning.”


            Letting out a snort of laughter, Lena smiled at Kara, “well I’m glad the love part always makes sense because I have no clue what the fuck the bread means.”


            “Mom, that’s a quarter for the swear jar,” Lily said as she walked in, already dressed in her school uniform. Kara gave Lena a pointed look and gestured towards the jar on the counter, and rolling her eyes Lena promised to add some money later.


            “Is your sister up?” Kara asked, gesturing for Lily to come towards her so that she could fix the wonky tie that she’d clumsily tied. Lena smiled, watching Kara fuss over her, and cracked some eggs into the frying pan, keeping an eye on the bread in the toaster.


            Lily shook her head as she sat down, “she stole the bathroom first but I think she went back to sleep afterwards.”


            Sighing, Kara climbed to her feet, stealing a slice of toast off Lena’s plate and wrinkled her nose as she went off to drag their eldest daughter out of bed. Lena scrambled eggs in a pan, watching as Lily doodled on the newspaper and read the crossword. “Mom? Who was Lenin’s successor? It’s six letters.”


            “Stalin,” Lena said, smiling as she watched her daughter fill in the answer for her. Plating up breakfast for everyone, Lena balanced the three plates as she carried them over to the table, setting one down in front of her daughter and smoothing her hair. As she set down Kara’s and Daisy’s, she listened to the sound of raised voices approaching, as Kara herded their eldest daughter downstairs and to the kitchen. Sitting down, Lena sipped her coffee and watched as her daughter filled in another one. “What’s next Lils?”


            “Um, Athens is the name of the city named after which Greek goddess,” Lily read aloud.


            Lena’s expression softened at the answer, and she quickly turned in the direction of the door as Kara answered. “Athena.” She gave Lena a small smile, tinged with sadness, and Lena felt her heart ache slightly. The day they’d had to have Athena put down was one of the hardest of the past two decades, and Lena knew that sometimes Kara panicked without the familiar comfort of her support dog, even though it had been years. She refused to get a new one though, even when the girls had asked for a puppy.


            “Thanks mom!” Lily said, happily writing down the answer as Kara walked over to the table, closely followed by a ruffled looking Daisy, who was only half dressed.


            “Morning, love, did you sleep okay?” Lena asked, watching as Daisy walked over to the table and dropped down into a seat, reaching for the coffee pot, before Lena jerked it out of her reach. “No. You know the rules - no coffee.”


            Huffing, Daisy picked up her fork and stabbed at her scrambled eggs. “I don’t know why you make such a big fuss about it, it’s not like it’s going to affect me.”


            “Then why do you need it?” Lena asked, arching an eyebrow and smiling when Daisy pulled a face, mumbling something under her breath. “Ready for your recital?”


            “Yeah,” Daisy said, and that was the end of the conversation.


            Turning to Kara, Lena rolled her eyes and shook her head, stealing some of her wife’s breakfast to make up for the portion that had been stolen off her plate. They were talking about CatCo again, with Lena filling Kara in on more details, when Kara glanced down at her watch and started slightly. “Shoot! Is that the time? I’m going to be late.” Scrambling to her feet, she rushed around the table, planting kisses on both girls’ cheeks, and a quick kiss on Lena’s lips. “I love you all, my darling’s. Have fun at school and work, and grandma and I will see you at the recital tonight. Stay safe.”


            The two girls shared an exasperated look at the last part, not understanding why their mom’s made a point of saying it everyday, but Lena gave her a small, loving smile. “I love you. Have a good day at work.”


            Kara was gone after a brief smile, and another kiss for Lena, the sounds of her gathering her stuff reaching Lena’s ears as she finished off her coffee. Glancing down at her own watch, she realised that she had to get leaving soon too, or they’d all be late as well. “Come on, you two, finish eating and get your things. And don’t even think about wearing that army jacket, Dais; you know you’ll only get written up for not wearing proper uniform.”


            “The blazer’s ugly, mom,” Daisy complained, rolling her sleeves up past her elbows and crossing her arms over her chest.


            “Tough. You’re lucky you don’t have to wear the god awful dress I did at boarding school. Now, unroll your sleeves before you crease your shirt, and get your bag. You too, Lils. We’ve gotta leave in five.”


            Quickly washing up, Lena fetched her coat and bag, slipping on a pair of heels as she waited for both girls to come downstairs. Daisy was first, wearing combat boots that Lena rolled her eyes at - she’d never told her, but Daisy dressed exactly as Lena had as a teenager, and so she let her get away with it, even though she finally understood why Lillian thought it was awful - and they stood in the foyer as they waited for Lily to come down. Checking her watch, Lena sighed and looked at the top of the stairs. “Lily, you have two seconds to shift your ass, or you’ll be taking the bus!”


            A muffled reply was followed by the sound of footsteps thudding in the second floor staircase, and then her youngest daughter came flying around the corner, taking the next staircase two at a time as her backpack rattled with each step. “I’m ready,” She breathlessly exclaimed, and Lena opened the door, watching as Lily brushed past Daisy and sped outside. The three of them got into the car, and Lena nudged Daisy’s legs to get her to get them off the seat, before she reversed out of the garage and down the long driveway.

 

---

 

            Work was a blur of meetings and stacks of paperwork, made all the more difficult by Lena’s latest incompetent assistant, and she found herself getting irritated the more the day dragged on. In preparation of Alana forgetting, Lena had set a phone reminder to leave for Daisy’s piano recital, and as soon as her last meeting finished, she was packing up her things and messaging Kara to let her know she was on her way. Wishing some of the lingering staff a goodnight, Lena fished her keys out of her bag and made her way down to the garage; she’d long since stopped having a chauffeur, and it was purely due to the fact that she wanted to spend more time with the kids by driving them places. Sometimes she wondered if perhaps she was trying too hard to be the mother that she’d always wanted, while still trying to balance the strictness of the role, and Lena couldn’t help but feel grateful for the routine of business sometimes, because at least that was predictable. Raising two girls was hard and challenging, and while she loved them more than anything, there was a part of Lena that was terrified each and every day, because she didn’t want to let them down. She didn’t want to let Kara down either.


            Feeling frustrated at the backed up traffic on the way to the theatre, Lena drummed her fingers on the steering wheel and muttered a dozen curses that would’ve warranted a lot more than a quarter in the swear jar, but she was eventually pulling into the car park and hurrying inside.


            “There you are!” Daisy exclaimed at the sight of Lena pushing through the crowd of parents and other kids.


            “Of course I am,” Lena breathlessly said, kissing her on the cheek, even as Daisy tried to pull away. She kissed Lily on the cheek too, and looked around for Kara. “Where’s your mom?”


            Lily shrugged, giving Lena a dimpled smile, “I don’t know. She was here with grandma, but she disappeared.”


            “Carter, slow down!”


            Lena turned around, raising her eyebrows as she watched her niece come running through the crowd, followed by her shorter mother, who was invisible at the moment. Then Maggie stepped around a man, and rolled her eyes as she looked at Lena. “There you are,” she exasperatedly said.


            “Why does everyone keep saying that? Yes, I’m here,” Lena sighed, “have you seen my wife? She seems to have wandered off.”


            “Hey kids,” Maggie said, smiling at the other two girls, before she looked back at Lena, “Kara’s with Alex, and Lillian as well.”


            Nodding, Lena began herding the three girls towards the direction that Maggie and Carter had just come from, falling into conversation with her sister-in-law as they walked. Maggie was wrapping up a story on an arrest she’d made that day, when they stepped around a father and son carrying a large case, and spotted the rest of their family. “Lena-“


            “Yes, I’m here,” Lena quickly interrupted Kara, her lips curling up into a smile as she walked over to her and gave her a kiss. Turning to Lillian, Lena let her mom kiss her on the cheek as well, “hi mom. How’d your meeting go today?”


            “As well as expected,” Lillian briskly replied, and Lena smiled slightly at the answer, before turning to look at Kara and arching an eyebrow. They all laughed as Kara launched into a full story about their morning, and Lena held her hand, running circles onto the back of it as she listened with rapt attention. Alex was telling them about Eliza planning a trip to Metropolis, when the crowd on parents all started to disappear into the theatre.


            “Good luck, Dais,” Lena said, smoothing her daughter’s wild curls as she smiled.


            “Not that I need it,” her daughter loftily replied, and Lena laughed.


            “No, you don’t.”


            Alex leant towards Lena to whisper in her ear, “she gets that from you, you know.”


            Gently elbowing her in the ribs, Lena gave Daisy another bright smile, waiting until she’d disappeared through a door leading backstage, before they rest of the family traipsed into the dimly lit room and took their seats. As the stage was lit up with bright lights, and the first kid took to the stage with a trumpet, Lena bit back a groan. It was going to be a long recital.

 

---



            “You were amazing,” Kara said, kissing Daisy’s forehead as soon as they met in the lobby, and Lena watched their daughter shift and fuss as Kara gave her a hug.


            Beckoning her over, Lena similarly hugged and kissed her, and Daisy rolled her eyes and shoved her hands in her pockets as her aunt’s and grandma showered her with compliments. “Come on then, what’ll it be? Ice cream? Bowling? Pizza - wait, no, you had pizza last night. A new book?” Lena asked, clamping one hand down on Daisy’s shoulder, and the other on Lily’s as she steered them towards the doors so they wouldn’t clog up the lobby.


            “Pick ice cream,” Lily whispered to her sister, and Daisy smiled slightly as she looked up at Lena.


            “Ice cream,” she said, and Lena gave her shoulder a quick squeeze, before dropping her hands and pausing to wait for everyone else to catch up.


            Smiling as she fell into step beside Kara, who instinctively reached out to twine their fingers together, Lena gave her hand a quick squeeze, glancing down at the stack of polaroids in Kara's hand as she spoke, “the kids want ice cream.”


            Nodding enthusiastically at the prospect of dessert before dinner, Kara turned to look at Alex and Maggie, “are you both coming?” They nodded, and Kara turned to Lillian, raising her eyebrows expectantly.


            “My driver’s waiting outside,” Lillian said, “I’m feeling a bit drained from the meetings today. You were wonderful though, sweetheart.” She directed the last part to Daisy, who was walking backwards as she listened to everyone make a decision. Giving her a wide smile, Daisy walked over and gave Lillian a hug.


            “Thanks for coming, grandma.”


            “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Lillian said, meeting Lena’s eyes over Daisy’s shoulder and giving her a small smile.


            They’d gotten along well for the past two decades, growing closer and closer and developing a normal mother-daughter relationship, and things had only gotten better once Lena had had her own kids. In some ways, she could better understand the predicament that Lillian had been in, but in others, she couldn’t imagine herself being the kind of mom that her own had been for half of her life. It was hard for Lena to equate the woman who had been so giving and loving over the second half of her life, to the cold and distant one she’d had for the the first half, but Lena knew that she loved her mom, and everything was in the past now. Lillian had proved herself with her grandkids, taking the opportunity to show just how devoted she was to her family, and even treating Carter like one of her own as well. It was almost alarming to everyone m, just how much she doted on the three girls, but none more so than Lena. She was grateful for it though, and was glad that she could give her girls at least some of her own family, even if she’d never explained the rest of it. They didn’t even know about Lex, and she dreaded the day that conversation would come up, and had filed it away with things that she’d tell them when the time was right. For now, she wanted to enjoy being a mom, without the drama of the past being brought back up and reopening old wounds.

Chapter Text

            Lena pulled up outside Alex and Maggie’s house and put the car in park, climbing out and walking up the garden path. As she raised a hand to knock, the door was yanked open, and Lena came face to face with Maggie, who was in the middle of tucking in her shirt.


            “Captain,” Lena mocked her, giving her a lazy salute.

            
            “Oh look, my favourite asshole,” Maggie drily replied, before turning to look inside, “I’ll see you tonight.” There was a moment of silence, and Maggie rolled her eyes. “Alex! I’m leaving.”


            The distant sound of Alex replying drifted towards them, and Lena smiled slightly, arching an eyebrow as she let herself into the house, watching as Maggie walked to the car parked in the driveway. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”


            “I’m not stupid enough to get stabbed,” Maggie smirked as she climbed into the front seat, and Lena could see her laughed as she flipped Maggie off. Quietly laughing, Lena stepped inside and shut the door behind her, stepping past the messy pile of shoes left near the door, alongside the abandoned school bags.


            As she passed the bottom of the stairs, Alex came out from the kitchen, looking flustered as she carried a basket of laundry under one arm. Seeing the mess of shoes near the door, Alex sighed. “These bloody kids. Carter, will you please come and put your shoes away.”


            “Need a hand?” Lena asked, taking the basket off Alex, who gave her a grateful smile, and followed after her. She learnt against the dryer as Alex shoved handfuls of clothes into the washing machine. “Is Carter still staying over tomorrow night?”


            “Yeah, if that’s okay. Me and Mags are both pulling graveyard shifts,” Alex sighed.


            “No problem,” Lena assured her, walking back through the house as Alex made her way back to the kitchen. All three girls went to the same private school - the best one in Metropolis, which Alex and Maggie had been hesitant to agree to when Kara and Lena had offered to pay the hefty tuition as a gift - and they often carpooled and stayed at each other's houses to work around everyone's busy schedules. Lena liked how close the three girls were, even if Daisy and Lily were prone to arguing a lot, which Alex and Kara assured her was very normal, and it made her heart feel warm to know that she finally had a normal family.


            The sound of three sets of feet running downstairs reached their ears, and three teenagers appeared in the doorway, with Lily running over to Lena to give her a hug. “Are you staying for a cup of coffee?” Alex asked, setting the pot on.


            “No, I’d better get home and start dinner,” Lena said, “thanks for picking the girls up. Come on you two, get your stuff.”


            Daisy and Lily walked out to the hallway, and Carter jumped up on the kitchen counters, taking an apple from the fruit bowl and taking a bite out of it. “Hey, is your homework done?” Alex asked, prodding her daughter off the unit, and shooing her over to the table, while Lena patiently listened to the sounds of her girls putting their shoes on as she chatted to Alex.


            “Mom,” Daisy impatiently called, walking back into the kitchen and gesturing expectantly towards the door. Rolling her eyes, Lena fished her keys out of her bag and moved towards the door. “Thanks Aunt Alex,” Daisy said, giving her an angelic smile, and Lily darted up the hallway to poke her head in and echo her thanks.


            Shooing then both down the hallway, Lena looked back over her shoulder and smiled at Alex, “thanks, Alex. I’ll see you tomorrow, Carter.”


            Seeing herself out, Lena unlocked the car and slid into the driver’s seat, waiting as both girls climbed in and buckled themselves in, before she turned the key in the ignition. Pulling out onto the road, Lena set off towards the outer limits of the city, turning the radio down as she looked at Lily in the rear view mirror, and Daisy sat in the passenger seat. “So, how was school?”


---


            The three of them were sat in the living room, Lena finishing off some paperwork, Daisy reading, and Lily stretched out on the floor as she stared up at the TV. The sound of a key turning in the lock caught their attention, and Lena smiled slightly to herself, listening to the sounds of Kara hanging her coat up and taking off her shoes. A few minutes later, Kara appeared in the doorway, and Lena jumped up from her seat, crossing the room to give Kara a kiss. Pulling back, she smiled lovingly up at her, reaching up to cup Kara’s cheek. “Hey, how was work?”

 

            “It was … okay,” Kara said, shrugging slightly as she gave Lena a small smile, before her eyes moved to beyond her wife, “hey kids, good day at school?” Lena watched as Kara walked over to them, falling into easy conversation as she kissed both girls on the top of their head, and while everything seemed fine, she couldn’t help but feel like there was something off about Kara. Not wanting to put her on the spot in front of the kids, Lena let it go for the moment, knowing that if Kara wanted to tell her, she’d do it later, when they went to bed.

 

            “I made chicken for dinner,” Lena told Kara, who looked up and gave her a smile, “I’ll go and heat yours up for you. Do you want some wine with it?”

 

            The wine was a small test, because Lena knew that Kara rarely drank with dinner at home, unless she felt stressed or worried, and it was something that Kara hadn’t cottoned onto yet, which made it all the more easier for Lena to test the waters with her wife, before jumping to conclusions. “I’d love some,” Kara gratefully replied, and Lena gave her a small smile, nodding as she slipped out of the living room.

 

            Pottering around the kitchen, Lena got Kara’s dinner ready and poured a glass of red wine for her, before setting it down at the table and calling her to the kitchen. The sound of footsteps grew closer, and Kara wearily walked in and dropped down onto the chair with the plate in front of it, murmuring her thanks as she picked up her cutlery. Pouring a glass of wine for herself, Lena sat down opposite her. “So, good news,” Lena started, “I had the meeting with Cat Grant today.”

 

            “Oh shoot, I forgot about that!” Kara exclaimed, straightening up slightly in her seat as she looked expectantly at Lena, “well, how’d it go?”

 

            A slightly smug smile crossed Lena’s face, and she raised her glass of wine and took a sip. “Well, it looks like I’m going to be needing a new CEO for our new company.”

 

            Kara let out a squeal of surprise, “you did it? Lena, that’s amazing! Come here, give me a kiss.” Laughing, Lena dutifully climbed to her feet and walked around the table, bending down and giving Kara a gentle kiss as she smiled into it. Kara brushed Lena’s hair out of her face as she smiled brightly up at her, “we’ll have to go out for dinner and celebrate. How about this weekend? My mom’s supposed to be coming to town too, so we can all go out together.”

 

            “Sounds perfect,” Lena agreed, giving her another quick kiss before she reclaimed her seat and took another sip of her wine. “Remember Gayle Marsh? She’s one of the lower downs, but she’s always been very intuitive and and innovative … I was thinking about making her CEO at CatCo.”

 

            “Gayle Marsh?” Kara asked in surprise, her eyebrows raising slightly, “the pretty blonde? Really?”

 

            Lena shrugged, rolling her eyes slightly at Kara’s comment on how pretty she was, “well she’s been working at the branch here ever since we moved here, and I know that we work well together. I figured that I may as well have someone that I trust, even if it’s going to be a bit different for her. She’ll be great at it, she was in advertising when I first got here, so she’ll be good with that part of the magazine as well.”

 

            “Yeah, I’m sure she’ll be great. If she says yes then you should invite her to dinner too,” Kara suggested cutting a piece of chicken and inspecting the middle, much to Lena’s amusement - she’d become a much better cook, especially after becoming a mom, but there was always the memory of the uncooked chicken whenever she made some.

 

            “How was work? You didn’t really say much when you came in,” Lena gently said, not wanting to push Kara on the topic.

 

            Kara chewed thoughtfully for a few moments, before taking a sip of wine and clearing her throat. She shrugged casually as she put the glass back down, “nothing interesting really happened. It was mostly paperwork today, but I did manage to get down to the labs for a couple of hours. I think your mom is overworking herself; she’s always tired. She really needs to slow down.”

 

            “I know, I know,” Lena sighed, “I’ve been telling her for years now. I don’t think she knows that she’s getting old. I mean, she’s not that old, but she’s going to need to retire eventually. It’s not like she needs to work either, she’s just stubborn.”

 

            “Tell me about it,” Kara laughed, “it must run in the Luthor’s, because the girls definitely don’t get it from me.”

 

            “Oh please,” Lena scoffed, “ you’re not stubborn? We’ve been married for eighteen years, darling, I think I know exactly how stubborn you are.”

 

            The corners of Kara’s mouth curled up into a smile, and she tilted her head to the side as she stared at Lena, “do you now, Mrs Danvers-Luthor?”

 

            Lena’s lips twitched slightly, but she bit back a smile as her eyes sparkled with amusement, “I might. Come on, finish your dinner before the girls start a brawl in the living room. We both know that you’ll be the one breaking it up.”

 

            “Only because they’re both taller than you,” Kara laughed, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she speared a piece of asparagus on her fork and took a bite out of it. Lena flipped her off as she drained her wine, and Kara laughed again. “You know, I don’t think you’ve grown up since the day I met you.”

 

            “I might not have grown up, but I’ve matured,” Lena said, “did you know I’m married now? And I have kids? Who would’ve ever thought, huh?”

 

            “Me,” Kara softly said, reaching out across the table, and Lena smiled as she placed her hand in Kara’s, watching as Kara ran a thumb across her knuckles.

 

            Pulling her hand back, Lena climbed to her feet and snagged her empty wine glass off the table, walking around and dropping a kiss onto Kara’s head as she walked towards the kitchen. “Well, you always saw the best in me.”

 

            “From the moment I first saw you, my dear.”

 

---

 

            The house was quiet, with both girls up in their rooms, most likely not sleeping even though Kara had told them it was time for bed, and Lena lay with her head resting against the rim of the giant bathtub. The steam made her damp hair cling to her face, and she had her eyes closed as she listened to Kara talk, feeling the weight of Kara’s body pressed up against her as she leant back against Lena.

 

            “I was thinking we could go to Midvale in a few weeks.”

 

            “Oh?” Lena asked, absentmindedly running her fingers along Kara’s shoulder.

 

            “Yeah, well I know my mom is coming up this weekend, but I thought it might be nice to take the girls to see her. I know she misses them, and us, and Alex is going with Maggie and Carter in a few weeks, so I thought that we could go two weeks later. Spread it out so she’s not alone as much. I know the holidays are coming up soon, so we'll be going then, but I thought that we could fit in another trip before the weather gets cold,” Kara explained.

 

            Opening her eyes, Lena tilted her head back up, before ducking it to softly kiss Kara’s shoulder, “whatever you want. You know I always love visiting your mom. Is everything okay though?”

 

            “Everything’s fine,” Kara nervously laughed, and even though Lena wasn’t facing her, she watched as Kara’s hand fluttered up to her face, to fix the glasses she wasn’t wearing - her nervous habit. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, wrapping both arms around Kara and making the water slosh back and forth, coming dangerously close to flooding over the sides of the bath. “Because,” Lena whispered in her ear, “you’ve been off all evening, and I’m not an idiot, love.” She kissed Kara on her cheek, which was turning pink as Kara flushed slightly. “Come on, what’s bothering you? Am I working too much? Your know I can ask Sam to take on some of my workload if you want me to spend more time at home. Or if you want to cut back your hours, you know you don’t have to work if you don’t want to. If it’s about Alana-”

 

            “I saw Mike today,” Kara blurted out, cutting Lena off.

 

            Frowning, Lena paused for a moment, thinking hard. “Who’s Mike?”

 

            Kara breathed in deeply and let out a shaky breath, “Mike Matthews. The guy that I- the one who survived.”

 

            Starting slightly, Lena blinked in surprise, moving both of them so that she could get a better look at Kara’s face, and accidentally making the bath overflow that time. She didn’t care though, and her forehead furrowed in concern as she cupped Kara’s cheek and tilted her head to the side so that she was looking into her wife’s confused blue eyes. “Oh, oh. Shit. Are you okay?”

 

            Kara gave her a grim smile, looking down and brushing a stray lock of hair off Lena’s shoulder, “I’m fine. It was just- I haven’t seen him since … well, you know. I didn’t even recognise him. It’s not that he looks any different - I mean, yeah he’s older too - but I just … I haven’t thought about him in so long. I haven’t thought about any of it for a while, and it kind of … caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting it, you know?”

 

            “Do you want to talk about it? Do you want to stay home tomorrow? I’ll cancel all my meetings and we can just stay at home - just me and you,” Lena babbled, feeling slightly panicked, because she wasn’t sure how Kara was reacting, and it scared her when she couldn’t see Kara’s feelings written all over her face.

 

            “I’m fine, Lena,” Kara said, laughing slightly, “I just … I don’t know. It rattled me a little. I thought I was past it all, which is a naive thing to say, I know, but it all kind of came rushing back to me. It was almost as if I was back there.”

 

            “Kara-”

 

            Turning in Lena’s arms, Kara cut her off with a quick kiss, her lips warm and soft against Lena’s, and there was a slight urgency behind it, before Kara pulled back away. “I’m … fine.”

Chapter Text

            “Mom! Let’s go,” Daisy impatiently said, scowling as she looked at Kara, who was sat at the bar in the kitchen, a brooding look on her face as she stared at the kitchen counter.

 

            Lena walked in, putting a pair of diamond earrings in and trying to stop her purse from slipping from where she had it awkwardly clamped under one arm. Dropping it onto the counter, she opened it up and pulled out a lipstick, touching up her bright red lips, before she put it back in and smiled at the Kara and Daisy. “Everyone ready?”

 

            “Yeah, mom’s just completely blanking on me,” Daisy huffed, turning to look at Lena with a small crease between her eyebrows.

 

            Realising that Daisy was right, and Kara hadn’t so much as acknowledged her since walking into the room, which was very unlike Kara, who always made a point to comment on how beautiful Lena looked, whether she was in sweatpants or an expensive dress like the one she was wearing. Reaching out to tuck Daisy’s hair behind her ear, Lena smoothed her hair down and gave her a small smile, “go and fetch your sister. We’ll be leaving in a minute.” She waited until she heard Daisy’s footsteps disappear, before she whirled around and rushed over to Kara, slowing as she approached her. “Kara? Are you okay?” Lena slowly asked, reaching out to gently touch Kara on the shoulder.

 

            Jumping slightly at the contact, Kara rapidly blinked, letting out an uneven breath as she came back to her surroundings. Her face split into a wide smile as she looked Lena up and down. “Sorry, I was just daydreaming. You look fantastic,” she said, her eyes sparkling as she drew Lena close, “give me a kiss.”

 

            Leaning down to place a soft kiss to her lips, Lena drew back, cupping Kara’s cheek in her hand as she ran a thumb over her cheekbone. She’d been brooding and distracted all week, and Lena didn’t have to guess why, but she hated that Kara wouldn’t admit that her memories were bothering her. “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

            “No,” Kara curtly replied, slipping off the stool and fixing her dress, before trailing her fingers along Lena’s shoulder as she brushed past her.

 

            “Kara,” Lena quietly called after her, “Daisy was talking to you and you completely ignored her. You can’t just keep it inside and expect the girls not to notice. I know you don’t like talking about it, but-“

 

            “You’re right; I don’t,” Kara firmly said, “and don’t worry, it’s not like I’m relapsing again. It’s been a while; I’m over it.”

 

            Lena huffed in frustration, pulling her close by her hand and giving her an exasperated look, “Kara, come on. You know that you’re not over it; it’s not something you just get over, no matter how long it’s been. I know seeing Mike was a shock for you, and you’ve been thinking about it all week – no, don’t even deny it, it’s been written all over you face. If you won’t talk to me, then maybe you should go back to therapy.”

 

            “Lena, I’ve been out of therapy for years,” Kara quietly laughed, even though there was no humour in it, “I don’t need to go back. I don’t need to talk about it. I just … I need to focus on the girls, and you, and us. All of us. It’s all fine, I promise you. You know I always keep my promises.”

 

            She gave Lena a charming smile, but it didn’t make Lena waver like it usually did, and she pursed her lips as she gave Kara a disapproving look. “Not always in the way I would like,” Lena replied in a clipped tone.

 

            “What’re you two arguing about?” a voice from the doorway asked, and both of them whirled around to face their daughter’s, almost looking like they’d been caught doing something wrong as they sheepishly smiled at them.

 

            “Nothing,” Kara quickly said, “look at you, huh. You both look great. Let me get a picture before we go.”

 

            “Ugh, more pictures, mom? You have thousands, you don’t need anymore,” Daisy complained, throwing her head back as she groaned in frustration. Kara laughed as she walked over to her, pressing a kiss to the side of her head and squeezing Lily’s shoulder, before she slipped out and went up to her photography room. Lena smiled faintly, loving the fact that Kara still had that old polaroid camera, which came out often, and had provided them with thousands of photos, some of which had been carefully placed in photo albums spanning the past twenty years. Every memory and event could be find up in that photography room, and Lena loved to sneak in sometimes and take a look at all of the photos that Kara had taken, both of them sitting on the floor drinking wine, sifting through them while they kid’s sat in their rooms, and picking out their favourites. It was one of the things she loved doing – just the two of them, because the girls weren’t interested – and she loved how much Kara still loved taking photos of all the beautiful things in her life. Both of them cherished the moments, even the small ones, because they knew how close they’d come to never having the chance to experience them. Sometimes it irked the girls though, and when Kara came back a few minutes later with three different cameras cradled in her arms, they both let out a groan in unison.

 

            “Come on,” Kara called, laughing as she watched them both drag their feet into the foyer and stand in the middle of the tiled floor. “Daisy, you have to smile.” Lena walked over and took two of the cameras off Kara – the digital and film ones – and watched as Kara took a couple of snaps with the polaroid one. The other two cameras had their turn, and then Kara ushered Lena in for some with both girls, before Lena took over and clumsily tried to capture her family with the same finesse that Kara did. After all these years, she still couldn’t manage to get the knack of the artistic way Kara did it, but the photos always came out fine.

 

            “Can I take some of you and mom?” Lily asked, a pleading look on her face at the chance to play around with Kara’s cameras, and Lena smiled as Kara agreed and Daisy groaned again. Walking over to her wife, Lena wound her arm around her waist and pressed a kiss to Kara’s cheek, quickly wiping away the smudge of red, before she turned to face Lily and smiled brightly.

 

            A few minutes of blinding flashes later, Kara carefully took the cameras and stack of polaroids and left them on the counter by the door. “Can we go now?” Daisy bluntly asked, “we’re going to be late.”

 

            “It’s fine, I’ll put my foot down,” Lena loudly whispered as she winked at her, handing Kara her coat, before slipping on her own.

 

            “Uh, Lena Luthor, you will not!” Kara protested.

 

            “That’s Danvers-Luthor to you,” Lena corrected her, and Kara wrinkled her nose as she smiled.

 

            “I know, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it,” Kara shrugged, slipping on a pair of heels.

 

            Jingling the car keys, Lena smiled, “I like it just fine.”

 

---

 

            “Grandma!” Lily exclaimed as soon as they walked into the private room that Lena had reserved at one of the upscale restaurants in the city. Lillian and Eliza both looked up, and Eliza climbed to her feet, holding her arms out for her youngest grandchild, who ran straight into them. Letting Eliza kiss her on the cheek, Lily smiled brightly, before repeating the process with the rest of her family gathered around the table, before taking her seat. Lena smiled, knowing for a fact that she got her affectionate side from Kara, and Daisy got her dour side from her. Still, she watched as Daisy let Eliza hug and kiss her too, and the moody look on her daughter’s face disappeared for a moment, before she shuffled over to her own seat and slouched in it.

 

            “Hi mom,” Kara said, giving Eliza a big hug, “how was the flight?”

 

            “Not too long,” Eliza wearily smiled at her, “how are you honey? Lena! Hi sweetie, come and give me a hug.” Conscious of the fact that her new CEO was sat at the table, in the midst of her family, Lena warmly smiled at Eliza and gave her mother-in-law a hug, before she briefly touched Lillian on her shoulder on the way to her own seat.

 

            Sat beside Gayle and and Daisy, and across from Maggie, Lena fell into easy conversation with her family, explaining her new business scheme while everyone perused the menu and ordered their drinks. There was champagne for a toast, and then wine, and everyone toasted to Lena’s success and Gayle’s new promotion, before the conversation turned to other topics. Gayle was deep in conversation with Kara and Lillian, and Lena was in the middle of catching up with Eliza, while Maggie and Alex listened and commented too. The three girls were all grouped together, with Lily and Carter talking about their science teacher while Daisy brooded. In the middle of telling Eliza about their plans to visit soon, Lena reached out and moved her wine glass closer, not even looking as she knocked the sneaking hand aside. Hearing the huff of frustration, she turned to give Daisy an amused smile.

 

            “You’re not old enough to drink,” Lena reminded her, “did you really think it would work?”

 

            “I’m almost eighteen, mom.”

 

            “It’s a good thing the legal age is twenty-one then,” Maggie said.

 

            Daisy frowned, giving Maggie a pleading look, come on, Aunt Maggie, you drank before you were twenty-one, right?”

 

            “She did no such thing,” Lena quickly answered, shooting Maggie a warning look, “and it doesn’t matter what Aunt Maggie says; it matters what I say.”

 

            “She’s a cop though,” Daisy reasoned with her, “if she says it’s okay, then it’s okay, right? Besides, you only have to be eighteen in the U.K.”

 

            Lena laughed, reaching out to brush her daughter’s hair out of her face, exposing a pair of stormy blue eyes underneath heavy brows as she scowled at her mom. “Well, it’s a good thing we’re not in the U.K.”

 

            “But you’re Irish.”

 

              “Only technically,” Lena said with a quick wink, before taking a sip of her wine and turning her attention back to Alex and Eliza, who were still talking. Crossing her arms over her chest, Daisy slouched in her seat, and Lena didn’t bother telling her to behave herself, knowing that she would just snarkily reply, and potentially ruin dinner. Sometimes, Lena could really understand what Lillian went through raising her, but she knew that she had been ten times more difficult by the time she had reached seventeen, and she couldn’t really complain. Her moody teenager was the least of her worries right now, but she definitely was one of them.

 

            Gayle was the first to leave, profusely thanking Lena, who waved them aside as she walked her to the front of the restaurant with the promise of meeting her again soon to see how everything was running. Returning back to the room, Lena walked in to find Lillian being helped into her coat by one of the waiters, and her eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You’re leaving too?”

 

            “I’m tired,” Lillian said, giving her a small smile, “I think I need an early night; I have work in the morning. I’ll see you tomorrow anyway; doesn’t Lily have a soccer match?”

 

            “Yep!” Lily excitedly said from the table, smiling brightly.

 

            Kara blinked in surprise, “you’re going into work tomorrow? It’s Sunday, Lillian, why don’t you take the day off and I’ll help you with whatever it is on Monday.”

 

            “That’s sweet of you, dear, but I’ll only be a few hours. I’ll be out by lunchtime,” Lillian assured her. Lena gave her mom a small smile, taking in the drawn look on Lillian’s face and the circles under her eyes, and let Lillian give her a quick hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow, sweetheart.”

 

            Sitting back down at the table, Lena thanked the waiter as he refilled her wineglass, and took a sip of it, her eyes trained on Kara, who was fiddling with her own full glass. She’d been drinking all night, and there was a slightly glassy look in her eyes that seemed to go unnoticed by everyone else as they happily kept on talking. Lena had an uneasy feeling though, because she’d seen Kara at her worst, and seen her sporadically go through it over and over again over the following years, and she knew that if she spiralled again, this time it would be worse than ever. Whatever Mike had triggered inside her, it wasn’t something good, and Lena fought back a wave of panic as she calmly took another sip of wine. It wasn’t that long later that Lena decided to call it a night, and everyone else readily agreed. She picked up the bill, and everyone fetched their coats, and talked as they made their way outside. Lena hung back from the rest of her family as she watched Kara talk to Eliza, one hand slung around Lily’s shoulders, while Daisy slouched after them, almost a whole head taller than Maggie, who walked beside her. Daisy always seemed to get along great with Maggie, and it was something that Lena loved, because she’d always been able to relate to Maggie the most as well, and she smiled slightly as she watched Carter run ahead to her mom, while Alex paused and waited for Lena to catch up. “What’s wrong?”

 

            Looking up in surprise, Lena gave her a hesitant smile, “nothing.”

 

            Alex let out a snort of laughter and bumped her with her shoulder, “come on, Lena, I’m a detective. Even you can’t hide your feelings from me. Is it Kara? The girls? Your mom?”

 

            “Kara,” Lena quietly replied, “has she said anything to you lately?”

 

            “No, why? What’s going on?” Alex asked, a concerned look crossing her face.

 

            Not wanting to get everyone involved in her marriage and home life, Lena hesitated for a few moments, before giving Alex a warm smile. “I’m sure it’s nothing. I think she’s got a lot on her plate right now. I’m just … being overly cautious.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Alex sighed, “you better be careful, your maternal instinct’s showing. Becoming a mom’s made you soft; you better not let your minions find out.”

 

            Scoffing, Lena rolled her eyes, smiling slightly because there was some truth behind Alex’s words – even if she was still a stone cold CEO at the office. She wasn’t always soft though, and usually had to be the stern one, because Kara couldn’t bear to tell the girls off, but she knew that sometimes she worried too much, even though she was trying not to. “I’m sure it’s all fine.”

 

---

 

            Setting a kettle on to boil, Lena went to the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk, setting it down on the counter, and turning to glance at Kara who was sitting at the table in her pyjamas. “You girls having some tea before bed?” Lena asked, opening a cupboard and pulling out two cups, and then another two at the other girls’ affirmations. She leant against the counter, drumming her fingers on the worktop as she looked at Kara, pursing her lips slightly as her eyebrows knitted together in concern. A cupboard slammed shut behind her, and she saw Kara visibly wince, breaking out of whatever thought she’d been lost in, and Lena whirled around, a cross look flashing across her face. “What’ve I said about slamming cupboards?” she snapped, watching as Daisy scowled at being chastised.

 

            “I’m just getting some cookies, relax,” Daisy grumbled.

 

            “Please, Daisy, not tonight,” Lena sighed, rubbing her tired eyes.

 

            “But I haven’t even done anything.”

 

            “Just don’t answer back!” Lena frowned as she turned back around, a look of concern in her eyes as she looked at Kara. There were circles under her eyes that hadn’t been there last week, and a drawn look that made her look her age, but as Lena stared at her, Kara’s face softened, and her eyes crinkled at the corners, giving her that childlike happiness that Lena had fallen in love with.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara padded barefoot into the kitchen, taking the kettle off as it boiled, and filled up the four cups lined up in a row. Handing one to Daisy, she kissed her daughter on the cheek and smoothed her hair, “go on, up to bed now, love.”

 

            Huffing, Daisy clutched her tea and cookies in her hands and turned around, storming out of the room. “Goodnight!” Lena called after her, earning nothing but silence in return. Running a hand through her hair, Lena sighed, handing Lily a cup of tea and kissing her on the cheek, before shooing her out of the kitchen with a goodnight. Once it was just her and Kara, Lena ran a hand over her weary face, feeling tired after a long day and night, and looked up to meet Kara’s slightly raised eyebrows. Shoulders sagging slightly, Lena closed her eyes for a moment, “I know, I know, I shouldn’t shout at her. I just … it’s been a long day.”

 

            “What’s wrong?” Kara asked, a worried look crossing her face as she reached out to cup Lena’s face in her hands.

 

            Jerking back, Lena picked up her tea, scowling as a feeling of irritation welled up inside her. “I don’t know, Kara, why don’t you tell me?”

 

            “Nothing’s wrong, Lena! I already told you,” Kara exclaimed, “I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of it. If there’s a problem, you know I’ll tell you – when have I ever not? It’s not fair for you to get angry at the girls for not doing anything wrong.”

 

            “Kara, I’m not an idiot,” Lena snapped, “why’d you wince when Daisy slammed the cupboard? Huh? You’d been sat there for five minutes, oblivious to everything. What were you thinking about?”

 

            Kara’s cheeks turned slightly pink, and she cleared her throat as she looked down at the cup of tea on the counter. “It doesn’t matter what I was thinking about, and I winced because it was loud. That’s all.” Letting out a humourless laugh, Lena picked up her tea and turned around, walking towards the door. “Come on, Lena,” Kara sighed, “don’t be angry with me.”

 

            “I’m not angry,” Lena snarkily replied, “I’m just tired. That’s all.”

 

            Without another word, she kept walking and made her way up to their bedroom on the second floor, reading over some paperwork until she’d finished drinking her tea, and then switching off the lamp and rolling over to go to sleep. It wasn’t long later when she heard the sounds of Kara locking up and switching everything off, followed by slow footsteps making their way upstairs. They paused outside the bedroom door, before it cracked open and Kara slipped inside. Neither of them said anything, but as Kara climbed into bed and snuggled down under the covers, she wriggled towards Lena, who sighed at the weight of Kara’s arm being thrown across her waist.

 

            “I love you,” Kara murmured, and Lena felt the gentle brush of warm lips against her cheek and smiled slightly.

 

            “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

            Lena was in a meeting with Gayle two weeks later, catching up on how she was settling in at the CatCo office in Metropolis, over lunch and a table filled with an assortment of files, when she received a phone call. Glancing down at the screen, she saw Kara’s name on it and gave Gayle an apologetic smile. “Sorry, I have to take this. It’s my wife.” Even after all those years, she still got a thrill out of calling Kara her wife, and she smiled as she climbed to her feet.

 

            “It’s no problem at all,” Gayle assured her, picking up her glass of water and taking a sip as she glanced back down at the financial reports.

 

            Quickly walking over to the large windows, overlooking the botanical gardens behind the restaurant, Lena answered her phone. “Hi, darling,” she said, smiling grimly, “sorry, now’s a bit of a bad time. I’m in a meeting with Miss Marsh, remember?”

 

            “I know, and I’m sorry,” Kara sighed, “but I’m in that meeting with Spheerical Industries that you set up with Jack for me, and I can’t leave now or I won’t get another one for months – you know how hard it was to plan this one – and Alex and Maggie are both in work, and I’d really like it if your mom could be here for the meeting.”

 

            “Okay, slow down, just tell me what’s wrong,” Lena soothingly said, listen to Kara ramble on.

 

            “The school called. Daisy-“

 

            Lena sighed in frustration, “don’t bother explaining. I’ll go there now and sort it out.”

 

            She could hear the relief in Kara’s voice, even as she apologised, “I’m sorry about your meeting.”

 

            “It’s fine, love,” Lena assured her, knowing that Kara hated going to deal with any school hassles anyway. Meetings weren’t her strong suit, which was why Lena wouldn’t leave her stranded with Jack to navigate the business end of their research by sending Lillian to go and pick up her daughter. The headmistress would probably want to talk to either Lena or Kara anyway, especially with the number of times Daisy had been in trouble that month already, and Lena resigned herself to the fact that she might singlehandedly be paying for the new wing of the library that the private school were hoping to build.

 

            “I’ll make it up to you tonight,” Kara promised her, and Lena smiled slightly.

 

            “You’d better get back to your meeting,” she said, “I love you. Good luck.”

 

            “Go easy on her, please,” Kara reminded Lena, who pressed her lips together in a thin line, “and I love you too. I’ll see you tonight.”

 

            The line went dead, and Lena sighed, running a hand over the front of her skirt as she tried to smooth away the wrinkles. Fiddling with her phone, she rushed back over to the table, where Gayle looked up at her expectantly. “I’m so sorry, I have to go. It’s the school – one of the girls … well. Do you have kids?”

 

            “It’s completely alright, Lena, I understand,” Gayle said, before hesitating slightly, “no, I don’t, but I can imagine.”

 

            “Mm,” Lena murmured, “well, it’s the best and hardest job I’ve ever had – and this one hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.”

 

            “I don’t envy you doing both of them,” Gayle laughed, and Lena cracked a smile as she gathered her own files into a pile and shoved them inside her briefcase.

 

            Snapping it shut, she sighed, smiling slightly as she shook her head, “I wouldn’t change it for the world. Now, um, I’ll call you and we can reschedule a new meeting. Maybe some time next week, whenever you’re free at Catco.”

 

            “My time is yours whenever you need it,” Gayle assured her, climbing to her feet, and holding out a hand, “Mrs Danvers-Luthor.”

 

            “Miss Marsh,” Lena politely said, shaking her hand and saying goodbye, before she gathered her things and made for the front door. A waiter fetched her coat for her and helped her into it, while another one helped settle the bill for her, and a few minutes later, her heels were clicking on the sidewalk as she walked towards her car, taking the keys off the valet and sliding him a few notes, before slipping into the front seat. The car purred to life, and Lena pulled out into traffic, settling into the leather seat as she sighed, wondering what mess her daughter had gotten into this time.

 

            The drive to the school wasn’t too long, and she parked as close to the door as she could get, before turning off the engine and taking a few moments to take a deep breath and ready herself for another meeting with the headmistress. Climbing out of the car, she fetched her bag and adjusted the front of her coat, tossing her long hair back and striding towards the front doors of the old school. She walked down the hallway, needing no instruction on where to go, passing closed classroom doors as she made her way towards the office. The secretary at the front desk nodded to her as she walked in, and Lena gave her curt nod.

 

            “Mrs Danvers-Luthor,” she said, climbing to her feet and rounding the desk, “if you’ll follow me.”

 

            “Miss Strayd,” Lena nodded, watching as the secretary – Lyra, she knew from her frequent visits – walk over to the doors to the headmistress’ office and knock twice, before poking her head inside to tell her that Lena was here.

 

            Lyra stepped aside, giving Lena a small smile as she brushed past her and walked into the office, taking in the big wooden desk, with the woman sat behind it, looking at her expectantly. Lena didn’t look at the slouched figure occupying one of the two chair on the other side of the desk, but she felt her annoyance stir and bit her tongue to keep herself from scolding Daisy before even knowing why. Plastering a warm smile on her face, Lena focused her attention on the headmistress.

 

            “Miss Ardeen,” she politely greeted her, crossing the room to shake the hand of the woman who rose from her seat to extend a hand.

 

            “Mrs Danvers-Luthor,” Imra replied, giving her a tight smile. She was always warm, and lenient with her students, but Lena knew that Daisy was constantly in her office, and couldn’t even fault the woman for her curtness as she invited Lena to take a seat. “Well, we’ll cut right to it then.”

 

            Lena gave her the barest hint of a smile, “please.”

 

            “Miss Danvers-Luthor has been … well, there’s been a bit of an issue with smoking amongst the upper classmen,” Imra started, leaning back in her chair as she looked at Lena.

 

            Whipping her head around to look at Daisy, Lena’s mouth fell open in shock, “smoking? You were smoking?”

 

            “No,” Daisy mumbled, her face turning read as she ducked it and hunched her shoulders, trying to sink further down into the chair, almost as if Lena wouldn’t be able to see her.

 

            Frowning, Lena turned back to Imra as she carried on talking, “the issue with Daisy wasn’t the smoking part, it was, ah, supplying the cigarettes to the students.” Lena grit her teeth together as she slowly turned to look at her daughter, who had let her hair fall into her face, creating a dark curtain to separate her from Lena’s hard stare. She wouldn’t turn and look at her mom, and Lena pressed her lips together in a grim line, biting back a dozen comments that wouldn’t help the situation. Making a disapproving sound, Lena glanced at Imra, before looking back at Daisy.

 

            “We’ll talk about this at home,” she told her daughter, before forcing a strained smile and looking back at the headmistress, “so, I assume there will be detention?”

 

            “Actually, Mrs Danvers-Luthor, given the nature of the situation, there will be a three day suspension, and a month of detention.”

 

            Lena shifted slightly in her seat, clearing her throat as she opened and closed her mouth a few times. “Miss Ardeen, I- well … would it be possible for you to keep this off Daisy’s permanent record? With college applications coming up … well, an ivy league college wouldn’t take too kindly to this kind of … behaviour on a permanent record,” Lena slowly said, “I would be very grateful, of course, and could possibly contribute to this new library wing that the school is hoping to build. I can assure you that Daisy won’t do anything like this ever again either.”

 

            They were all silent for a few moments, with nothing except the ticking of the clock on the wall to break it, and the tapping of Imra’s pen on the desk. Pursing her lips slightly, she gave Daisy a thoughtful look, before sighing and turning back to Lena, giving her a warm smile. “Of course, and we would be so very grateful for your contribution, as always. I should say that … I understand being a teenager can be hard, but we have a reputation here as a prestigious school for only the best students.”

 

            “I completely understand,” Lena said, giving her a tight smile as she wrote out a hefty cheque and signed her name with a flourish, before setting it down on the desk and sliding it towards Imra, “like I said, it won’t happen again. Thank you, Miss Ardeen.” Nodding, Imra murmured her goodbye’s and Lena climbed to her feet, picking up her bag and stepping around the chair. “Daisy.”

 

            Her daughter silently climbed to her feet, keeping her head down as she turned towards Imra’s direction. “I’m sorry for my behaviour, Miss Ardeen,” she mumbled in apology, “it won’t happen again.”

 

            “See that it doesn’t, Daisy,” Imra said, giving her a wry smile, “or I’m afraid that you might take up a permanent spot in that chair.” Nodding, Daisy hunched her shoulders and shuffled towards the door, one bag slung over her shoulder as she let herself out into the front office, and Lena thanked Imra once more, before following her daughter out and carefully shutting the door behind her.

 

            Nodding to Lyra, Lena breezed past the desk and out into the hallway, hurrying after Daisy, who was trying to get outside as quickly as possible so that she could avoid being scolded by her mom. Lena’s heels clicked on the tiled floor, getting faster as she struggled to keep up with her daughter, who was all but running out of the building. Lena scowled as she walked through the front doors, looking at the retreating figure of her daughter, who wasn’t even heading towards Lena’s parked car, which she had so very clearly seen.

 

            “Daisy!” Lena called after her, walking over to the car as she unlocked it. Her daughter didn’t stop, and Lena ground her teeth together in frustration, storming after her. “I’m talking to you.”

 

            “Well what’s the point in listening?” Daisy exclaimed, whirling around to frown at Lena, “you’re not going to listen to me; you’re just going to yell at me.”

 

            “Just get in the damn car,” Lena told her, trying to keep her voice down in case anyone was nearby. The last thing she wanted was a confrontation in the parking lot of the school.

 

            Huffing in frustration, Daisy kicked at the pavement, scuffing the toe of her boot, before stomping over to the car and climbing into the passenger seat, stuffing her bag in between her feet, while Lena climbed into the driver’s seat. They were silent as they drove, and not even the radio was on to break the tension, which was steadily building as they drove to the outer limits of the city, making it even more uncomfortable as Lena drove them home. Once they got there, Daisy was out of the car before Lena could even turn it off, running up the front steps and using her own key to let herself in. Lena followed after her, sighing as she walked in through the open door and shut it behind her, watching as Daisy quickly ran upstairs, reaching the top floor and swinging around the corner.

 

            “Daisy!” Lena called after her, “get back down here, now!”

 

            She heard the heavy sigh and muttered curses, before heavy footfalls came back around the corner as she slowly walked back down, taking her time as she stomped excessively hard on each step. She reached the bottom and at a pointed look off Lena, kicked her boots off and set them down near the door, dropping her bag to the floor and crossing her arms over her chest as she stared down at the tiled floor.

 

            “In the kitchen, please,” Lena stiffly told her, walking towards it herself and listening as Daisy followed after her. She set about making them both some tea, grabbing some cookies and tossing them down on the counter, watching as the skid towards Daisy and stopped at the edge of the counter. Her daughter raised her eyebrows slightly, and Lena pursed her lips as she arched an eyebrow – she didn’t look impressed. Waiting until they both had a cup of tea in front of them, Lena braced herself against the edge of the counter, collecting her thoughts as she tapped a finger on the marble top. “Why?”

 

            “I don’t know,” Daisy murmured, shrugging slightly as she picked a cookie out of the packet and took a small bite.

 

            “Dais,” Lena said in a warning voice.

 

            “Because I wanted to, okay?” she exploded, “I don’t need a reason to do things, mom. People smoke, so I give them cigarettes. It’s not a big deal.”

 

            Lena closed her eyes, spreading all of her fingers evenly on the counter as she bit her lip and took a deep breath. She slowly exhaled and gave her daughter a hard look, replying in a clipped tone that showed just how close she was to losing her temper. “Yes, it is a big deal when I’m in the middle of an important business meeting. It’s a big deal when your mom has to call me from work because we’ve had another call. Your mom and I don’t give you money to let you to buy cigarettes, and why are you selling them anyway? Do you need more pocket money? Did you want to get caught? You’ve been so … ugh, you’ve been toeing the line for months now, Dais, why? What’s wrong? What am I doing wrong?

 

            “It’s nothing,” Daisy snapped, “you don’t need to make a big deal out of it! I’m sorry and I won’t do it again.”

 

            “It’s a big deal when it could go on your permanent record! How do you expect to get into a good college if all you have on your record is detentions and suspensions, Dais?”

 

            “I don’t want to go to college!” Daisy yelled.

 

            The following silence was deafening, and Lena tilted her head to the side, looking confused as she stared at Daisy. She had her head ducked down again, but Lena could see the blush that turned her face red, and the way her eyebrows drew down low over her eyes. Spluttering in shock, Lena gave her a puzzled look, “what do you mean you don’t want to go to college? You’ve been applying for weeks now. I thought you were going to do computer science?” Shrugging, Daisy reached for another cookie and slowly ate it so she wouldn’t have to reply, and Lena’s patience was wearing this, and her confusion was growing the longer she didn’t get an answer. As Daisy reached for another cookie, Lena pulled the packet out of her reach, her daughter’s head coming up to meet Lena’s questioning green eyes. “Dais, come on. Please.”

 

            “I don’t want to go to college, mom,” she quietly said, “I’m only applying because you and mom want me to. I like computers, and I know that I used to want to work for you, but … I don’t want to go to college anymore. I don’t care about school, or my grades.”

 

            “Why didn’t you just tell us?” Lena sighed, leaning on the counter as she rubbed her temple.

 

            “I didn’t want you to be mad!” Daisy exclaimed.

 

            A laugh fell past Lena’s lips before she could stop it, “I’m mad because you’ve been selling cigarettes to your classmates! You’re grounded for a month – no, that’s fair and you know it – and you won’t do it again. I’m not mad that you don’t want to go to college though, but I really wish you would. I don’t want you to think your mom and I are going to carry you through life, Dais. I need to know that you have a plan; I don’t want to have to worry about you.”

 

            Screwing up her face in confusion and annoyance, Daisy leant back slightly, “I’m not going to rely on you and mom! I do have a plan, mom.”

 

            “Well what is it?” Lena asked, raising her cup of tea to her lips and taking a sip as she raised her eyebrows expectantly.

 

            “I’m going to join the army,” Daisy confidently proclaimed.

 

            The tea went everywhere. Coughing as she reached for a dishtowel, mopping up the tea while Daisy looked at her mom with surprise on her face, Lena fought back a wave of panic. Her hands shook slightly and her heart was beating loudly in her chest, and she couldn’t look at her daughter, because she knew Daisy wasn’t stupid, and she’d see the alarmed look in Lena’s eyes.

 

            “No. Absolutely not. You’re not joining the army,” Lena quietly, but firmly told her.

 

            “Why not?” Daisy argued, “mom did.”

 

            Lena looked up, fighting back a wave of panic and hurt as she looked at Daisy, taking in the stubborn pout and frown on her face as she glared at Lena. “Your mother was already in the army when I met her, and she left as soon as she could. Don’t think that she’ll agree to this anymore that I will; she’ll probably disagree even more.”

 

            “But she’s fine,” Daisy protested.

 

            “She was one of the lucky ones,” Lena sharply told her, feeling a pain in her chest at the thought of what she’d gone through with Kara. She couldn’t imagine going through all of that again with her daughter. “I said no, and that’s final.”

 

            “Well when I turn eighteen, I won’t need your permission,” Daisy snarkily replied, jumping down off the stool and snatching up the packet of cookies, leaving her untouched tea behind while Lena stared at her open mouthed, unable to come up with a good comeback.

 

---

 

            “I’m home!” Kara called as soon as she stepped through the front door, and Lily looked up from where she was doing her homework in front of the fire, smiling brightly up at Lena as she scrambled to her feet. Lena smiled slightly as she slowly climbed to her feet, listening to the sounds of Lily greeting Kara and taking the dinner that she’d brought home, darting off the to kitchen to dig into it. Hovering in the doorway, Lena watched as Kara took off her coat, neatly hanging it up, and hanging her handbag up too. She jumped slightly when she saw Lena stood there, and her face split into a wide smile, “what’re you doing, lurking around? Do I not get a welcome home kiss anymore?”

 

            Softly smiling at her, Lena walked over to Kara and gave her a gentle kiss, feeling some of the tension and unease fade away at the feeling of Kara’s warm lips beneath her own. Sighing, Lena reached out to cup Kara’s face, “hi.”

 

            “Hi,” Kara murmured, leaning in to kiss her again, giving her a grim smile, “where is she?”

 

            “Up in her room,” Lena said as she sighed again, “she hasn’t come out since she locked herself in there. Alex dropped Lily off after school.”

 

            Kara nodded, reaching out to brush Lena’s hair out of her face, before her hands trailed down her neck and to her shoulders, giving them a reassuring squeeze. “What’d she do this time?”

 

            Grimacing, Lena gave Kara an exasperated look, “she was selling cigarettes to her classmates.”

 

            Kara’s mouth fell open in shock, as she let out a loud exclamation of surprise “she what?!”

 

            “Three day’s suspension and a month of detention. Luckily Miss Ardeen was kind enough to accept my offer of a sizeable donation to their new library wing in exchange for keeping it off her record. She … she doesn’t want to go to college though, Kara,” Lena hesitantly told her.

 

            “What do you mean she doesn’t go to college? She said she wanted to take computer science,” Kara frowned.

 

            Lena hesitated, picking up Kara’s hand in her own and giving it a quick squeeze as she looked down at their interlocked fingers. “Kara, you need to talk to her.”

 

            “I will,” Kara assured her, “I assume you already told her she’s grounded?”

 

            “She wants to join the army, Kara,” Lena quietly blurted out.

 

            Kara froze, her smile faltering as Lena looked up to meet her blue eyes. They were confused, almost like she didn’t understand what Lena had just told her, but then her eyes widened as it dawned on her, and Kara opened and closed her mouth a few times as she struggled to make her voice work. Lena enveloped her in a hug, rubbing Kara’s back as she held her tightly, understanding how difficult it would be for Kara to think about what she’d been through, and imagining their own daughter in that situation. When Lena pulled back, Kara’s face was ashen, and the dark circles under her eyes only made her look worse as she stared at Lena wide wide, fearful eyes. “No,” she whispered, “no, no, no, she can’t. I won’t let her.”

 

            “I already told her, love,” Lena quickly assured her, tipping Kara’s head down and leaning forward to kiss her on her forehead, “she said she can make her own decisions when she’s eighteen. Kara, you need to tell her.”

 

            A pained look crossed Kara’s face, and she gave Lena a pleading look, “I don’t think that I can, Lena. Not yet. Maybe we can … I don’t know. If we both talk to her, maybe she’ll listen.”

 

            Lena sighed, knowing that it was pointless to argue with Kara right now, but also knowing that Daisy had her stubbornness, which meant that she wouldn’t listen. “Yeah, we’ll talk to her together. Not tonight though. Let’s go and have dinner, and then we’ll have an early night; you look tired.”

 

            Kara ran a hand over her tired face, nodding as her eyes darted over towards the stairs, “yeah, sure. I’ll go and fetch Dais, you can go and make sure that Lils hasn’t eaten all of the Chinese.”

 

            “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure there’s plenty left for you,” Lena said, giving her a lopsided smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Seeing the way that Kara’s lips almost quirked up into a smile, Lena pulled her closer, “come here a second.” Carefully, she slowly kissed Kara, twice on the lips and then a quick peck on the cheek as they pulled apart. This time Kara managed a small smile, and she tapped Lena on the ass, shooing her towards the kitchen while her wife laughed.

 

---

 

            Dinner was a sombre affair, and more tense than everyone would’ve liked, with most of the conversation falling onto Lily, who had the same tendency as Kara, to ramble when things started getting awkward, so at least the silence was filled. Kara sent both girls to bed early, going upstairs with them to talk to Daisy before she missed the chance to, while Lena cleaned up after dinner, feeling irritable and tired after a long day, and looking forward to bed. Finishing loading the last of the dishes in the dishwasher, she fetched the milk out of the fridge and made two cups of tea with the water that had just boiled, before carrying them both up to bed for her and Kara, making sure everything was locked up and switched off as she went.

 

            Quietly making her way inside, Lena shut the door behind her, carefully making sure she didn’t spill any tea, and smiled as she took in the sight of Kara sat on the edge of the bed, illuminated by the warm light of the lamp. It wasn’t until she sniffed that Lena realised that her hunched shoulders were shaking because she was crying, and panicking, Lena glanced around for the nearest unit, setting the two cups of tea down on top of the chest of drawers. Hurrying over to the bed, Lena sat down beside her and pulled Kara into her lap, which only seemed to make her cry more as she held on tightly. “I don’t want to lose her,” Kara sobbed into Lena’s shoulder.

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena blinked back tears, “it’s okay, we won’t let her go there. We’ll talk to her; she’s not stupid.”

 

            Kara let out a choked laugh, “like me?”

 

            “I mean, you always say she takes after me the most,” Lena weakly joked, earning a tearful laugh from her wife, “she’s smart. She- she can’t just … go. She’s not eighteen yet; we’ll figure out something, even if you don’t tell her. Nothing’s going to hurt our little girl, Kara – neither of them. Nothing’s going to hurt you too, I promise. It’s all going to be fine.”

 

            “W-what if we can’t stop her?” Kara asked, her muffled voice hitching slightly as she kept her face buried into Lena’s shoulder, staining her shirt with her tears.

 

            “If we can’t stop her, then I’ll buy the whole fucking U.S. army and I’ll drag her back, kicking and screaming, if I have to,” Lena firmly said, her mouth set in a grim, determined line. Like hell would she let her daughter put herself in danger – not only because of what had happened to Kara, but also especially because of that.

 

            Kara weakly nodded, taking a deep, shuddering breath as she tried to calm herself down. Pulling back, she ducked her head down, wiping at her face, while Lena brushed her hair back and placed a kiss to the side of Kara’s neck. As Kara pulled back the covers, Lena stood and went to fetch their tea, carrying them over and carefully handing one to Kara, before setting her own down on the bedside table and climbing in next to her. The instinctively gravitated towards each other, and Lena put an arm around Kara, holding her close while they watched the TV quietly, occasionally speaking, but taking comfort in each other’s presence more than anything. It was past midnight when Kara fell asleep, fitfully tossing and turning, and waking often, while Lena stared blankly up at the dark ceiling, unwilling to fall asleep, just in case Kara needed her. When the sun came up, they were both exhausted, with dark shadows beneath their eyes to show for it, but they didn’t comment on them as they climbed out of bed and went about their morning as usual.

Chapter Text

            They got ready for work quickly, with Kara pretending that she didn’t see Lena’s concerned looks while they showered and dressed. Kara made them all breakfast, while Lena prepared lunches for everyone, and then went upstairs to drag Daisy out of bed to come downstairs and eat. That was a challenge in itself, causing an early morning argument as Daisy bundled up under her blankets and ignored Lena. “Come on, Dais, I don’t have time for this. Get up and get ready, or I’ll drag you out of bed by your ankles.”

 

            With a muffled sound of frustration, the blankets were pushed down off her head, revealing a wild mess of dark curls. “I’m suspended,” Daisy grumbled, “I don’t have to go to school.”

 

            “I know, but you’re not laying in bed all day,” Lena told her in a clipped tone, “get up and get ready.”

 

            “Why? I’m not going anywhere.”

 

            “Yes you are, you’re coming to work with me,” Lena told her, giving her a stern look as she opened her mouth to argue. “No. No complaining. Missing school and staying home to play video games isn’t a punishment; you’re spending the day at the office, and you better behave yourself. Now shift your ass.”

 

            She didn’t move from the doorway until she watched her eldest daughter slowly push the covers back and climb to her feet. For a moment, Lena was struck by how similar this all was; Daisy had her old bedroom, filled with computers and blueprints, shelves of books and gadgets, just like it had been when Lena was a teenager. Then there was herself hovering in the doorway, chastising the dark haired girl who seemed to be moving exaggeratedly slow, in a similar game that Lena had played with her own mom when she’d been in Daisy’s position. Her lips quirked up into a small smile, “you’re not doing anything that I didn’t do to piss off my mom. I have all the patience in the world and I’ll cancel every meeting I have this morning, but you’ll be in the car with me when I go to L-Corp. Now, stop messing around and get in the shower; there’s pancakes downstairs.”

 

            With a sigh, Daisy started to move at a normal speed, rolling her eyes as she padded barefoot over to her door, brushing past Lena and pausing slightly. “You have to put money in the swear jar,” her daughter snarkily replied, and Lena laughed, ruffling her messy hair and giving her a gentle push towards the bathroom.

 

            “I’m leaving in twenty - if you’re not ready on time, I’ll purposely put you on security with Hector all day, which would be even more boring that school,” Lena warned her.

 

            Shaking her head, she walked back downstairs, pausing in her office to fetch her briefcase on her way to the kitchen. Lily was eating a stack of pancakes next to Kara when Lena walked in, rolling her eyes as she took in her daughter’s messy hair and untucked school shirt. “Where’s your tie, Lily?” Lena asked as she walked over to the half-full jar of coins, tossing in a few and pouring some coffee as she walked over to the table.

 

            Taking a couple of pancakes off the precariously stacked pile, Lena raised her eyebrows at her daughter. “It’s in my room,” she sighed, “I’ll get it before I go.”

 

            “Good. You don’t need detention as well,” Kara said, wrinkling her nose as she smiled. Lena stared at Kara few a few moments, scrutinising her face as she took in the dark shadows under her eyes, and the weary look as she ate her breakfast without her usual enthusiasm. A few moments later, the sound of footsteps on the stairs got their attention, and they turned to look as Daisy walked in. “Ah speak of the rebel,” Kara laughed, and Lena grimaced slightly, shaking her head as she cut into her food. Ignoring everyone, Daisy sat down and neatly stacked a few pancakes onto her plate, drizzling maple syrup over them and silently cutting into them. “How’d you sleep?” Kara asked.

 

            “Fine,” Daisy mumbled.

 

            Sharing an exasperated look with Kara, Lena shook her head and ate her own breakfast, listening to Lily talk about a history test she had in first period. Both of their girls had skipped a grade, inheriting the level of genius that was afforded to the Luthor’s with their endless access to the best of everything, so Lily was already a freshman, and still loved school. As a senior, Daisy was clearly on the other end of that, and preferred to act up, even though her grades never slipped at all; she knew Kara and Lena wouldn’t be so lenient with misbehaving if her grades weren’t perfect. Lena pursed her lips slightly as she watched her eldest daughter silently stab at her breakfast, before turning to look at Lily, who was laughing as she told Kara a story about school yesterday. She smiled slightly, remembering when Daisy had been less moody all the time, and more like Lily, but she didn’t blame her at all, because she knew how stressful school could be sometimes, and how hard being a teenager was. Kara had been on the opposite end of that, and had been the perfect student who had never put a toe out of line, and Lena hoped that Daisy would follow in her footsteps, because if she had to handle another rebellious and brooding teenager in a few years, she was going to turn grey.

 

            “Okay Lils, get your stuff, we have to leave,” Kara said, glancing down at her watch and picking up her empty plate. Lily dumped her own in the sink, before speeding out of the room so she wouldn’t have to wash it. Kara shook her head, smiling slightly as she opened the dishwasher, “and tuck your shirt it, please!”

 

            Lena finished her own food, nudging the rest of the pancakes towards Daisy, who gave her a small smile, and climbed to her feet. “Leave the dishes,” Lena told Kara, coming up beside her and kissing her on the cheek, “thank you for breakfast.”

 

            “You’re welcome,” Kara said, turning to give her a smile. It was warm and her eyes were full of love, but the tired circles under them still had Lena worried, and she reached out to carefully run her thumb along Kara’s cheekbone, just beneath the dark bags.

 

            “Call me if you need anything,” Lena murmured, “anything at all. And don’t push it aside if you do feel like you need a break, okay?”

 

            Kara quietly laughed, “yes, boss.”

 

            “I mean it, Kara,” she whispered, “I wish you would take it easy for a few days. You could go and have lunch with Alex, if she’s free. My mom wouldn’t mind.”

 

            Leaning in to give her a hard kiss, Kara picked the packed lunches up off the counter, “I’m fine, and I’ll see you tonight. I might be home earlier than you, so I was thinking lasagna for dinner.”

 

            Resigning herself to the fact that Kara was going to ignore everything, unless it got worse, Lena sighed, “lasagna sounds perfect. Have a good day, and don’t get into any trouble. I love you.”

 

            “No trouble, I promise,” Kara agreed with a crooked smile, “and I love you too.” She walked over to the kitchen table and dropped a kiss on to the Daisy’s head, “be good for your mother, okay? I love you.”

 

            “Love you,” Daisy mumbled, a slight pout on her face as she glanced up, her blue eyes flickering to Lena for a moment, before she ducked her head back down.

 

            “Lily! Come on, I’m leaving!” Kara shouted, and Lily poked her head inside, her shirt half tucked in as she messily did her tie up. Kara sighed, walking over and opening her daughter’s backpack and shoving her lunch inside.

 

            Their daughter bounced over to Lena, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Bye mom! Bye Dais! Have fun, and don’t kill each other,” Lily laughed, sticking her tongue out at her sister, who was scowling at her.

 

            “Good luck on your test, and have a good day, love. I love you,” Lena said, smiling as she shooed her daughter towards the door.

 

            The sounds of Kara and Daisy leaving drifted towards them for a few minutes as they scrambled for coats and shoes, and Kara searched for her keys. The silence was almost deafening when the door slammed shut behind them, and Lena shut the dishwasher, turning to look at Daisy. Sighing, she fetched a clean cup and poured some coffee in it, before walking over to the table and setting it down in front of her daughter, who looked up and raised an eyebrow.

 

            “Just this once,” Lena warned her, “and only because I’d prefer it if you weren’t so moody all day. Now hurry up, we’re leaving in ten minutes.”

 

            “Mom?” Daisy called out as Lena turned around, fetching both of their lunches and setting them on the edge of the counter so she wouldn’t forget them. She paused, looking over her shoulder with an expectant look on her face. “What’s wrong with mom?”

 

            Lena felt her heart seize at the question and gave Daisy a hesitant smile, realising that her and Kara’s quiet conversation hadn’t been quiet enough. “Nothing, she just had a really bad migraine last night. I thought it might help if she stayed home but she’s fine now.”

 

            “Is it because of me?” Daisy asked, a look of worry hidden in the depths of her blue eyes.

 

            Hesitating slightly, Lena turned around and slowly walked over to the table, leaving on it as she looked her daughter in the eye. “I mean, she was very upset at what you told us, but she’s been stressed at work lately too, so no, it wasn’t because of you,” Lena told her, giving her a small smile as she reached across the table to cup her daughter’s chin in her hand. “Now go and get dressed.”

 

            Fifteen minutes later Lena was speeding down the driveway, trying to stamp down her irritation at them running a few minutes late, while Daisy slouched in the seat beside her, one of Kara’s old National City baseball caps pulled down low over her face.

 

---

 

            It was midmorning and Lena was feeling more irritable than usual, and she didn’t have to look further than the couch in her office, where her snarky daughter had been finishing off some homework for the last hour, having been shouted at by Lena for having taken a box of files she’d been given and purposely messing up the perfectly organised filing system so that she could get out of more filing. She’d tried to make Daisy do some menial tasks around the place, hoping that it might instil some sense of responsibility for the day, but so far it had just made Daisy moodier, and Lena angrier. She hated being mad at the girls, and she rarely shouted at them because she hated to shout in general, usually reverting to a quiet, cool tone instead, which was almost worse than her yelling. She’d really only ever fought with her mom, and on the rare occasion with Kara, and she didn’t want her kids to be raised with parents who argued and shouted all the time.

 

            “Ma’am,” Alana said as she entered the office, “is there anything that I can get you?”

 

            Leaning back in her chair, Lena spun back and forth a few times, before glancing at her daughter, who was ignoring them. “A coffee please, and a hot chocolate – extra marshmallows.”

 

            “Right away, ma’am,” Alana said, quickly slipping back out of the office and leaving mother and daughter to sit in tense silence. Lena scribbled on some plans for their new generator, while Daisy completed her english literature homework, without so much as glancing at each other.

 

            It was a few more minutes before Daisy looked up, hesitating slightly before she spoke, “mom? Can you help me with my homework? Please.”

 

            Looking up Lena smiled slightly and beckoned Daisy over. Gathering up and armful of papers, and a novel, Daisy walked over to Lena’s desk and dropped it unceremoniously onto her mom’s desk. Lena shuffled her own papers and set them aside, followed by her laptop, and pulled her daughter’s work towards her. “What part do you need help with?”

 

            “We have to do a book report,” Daisy huffed, crossing her arms over her chest as she frowned.

 

            “Slaughterhouse-Five? They’re making you read that?” Lena asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise as the title of the book on the desk.

 

            “No, we got to pick,” Daisy said, “it’s about a soldier-“

 

            “I know what it’s about,” Lena stiffly replied, giving her daughter a stern look, “it doesn’t seem appropriate for a book report, Dais.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, her daughter picked up the book and stared at the cover, a slight crease forming between her eyebrows as she jutted her bottom lip forward slightly in a little pout. “Why do you and mom make such a big deal about army stuff?”

 

            Lena sighed, putting Daisy’s book report down and giving her a grim look, “because we do. Now, what do you need help with?”

 

            “But why?” Daisy asked again, and Lena sighed again.

 

            “Because it wasn’t a good time for your mom, and we don’t want you to put yourself in danger. Okay? It’s a dangerous job to have, and we don’t want you to be so far away,” Lena said, trying to find a good enough reason without telling her the whole reason.

 

            “Okay but you want me to go to college, which is still going to be far away, if I get into MIT,” Daisy argued, raising her eyebrows slightly.

 

            Closing her eyes, Lena leant back in her chair, spinning it slightly while she breathed slowly, “MIT isn’t in the middle of a warzone, love. Your mom and I just want what’s best for you, okay? We’re not trying to be mean; we just don’t want you to get hurt.”

 

            “Oh come on, mom, what’re the chances of something bad happening to me in the army?” Daisy laughed, but Lena didn’t, sitting stiffly in her seat. She knew all of the statistics, and she knew that chances were slim – roughly at one percent – and she knew that it meant nothing. Kara hadn’t thought she’d ever be a part of the one percent, and she’d almost become one of the even small number of people who died over there, but she’d still been hurt, and a part of her had never come back from it. Odds meant nothing when you could still be a part of it.

 

            “We’re not talking about this anymore,” Lena quietly told her, and Daisy knew better than to push her mom, and sighed quietly as she slid down in her chair. “What’s the angle for the report?” Lena asked after a few moments, picking up Daisy’s workbook and reading over what she had so far. They didn’t get very far, before there was a knock on the door, and Lena sighed, giving her daughter an apologetic look. “Come in.”

 

            The door opened and a dark head popped inside, a warm smile on the woman’s face as she looked towards Lena, “hi, I have- oh Daisy! Hi, aren’t you supposed to be in school?” Sam asked, her eyebrows rising slightly as she stepped into the office and shut the door after herself.

 

            “Hi Sam,” Lena greeted her CFO with a smile, before she turned to look at her daughter and gave her a disappointed look, “someone’s got a few days off for misbehaving. Are those the financial reports?”

 

            “Yes, and I took the liberty of doing some financial planning for the expected earnings with the first quarter sales of the new generator,” Sam said, crossing the office to put the files down in front of Lena. “Slaughterhouse-five, huh? They’re making you read that in school?”

 

            Daisy smiled up at Sam as she climbed to her feet, letting her mom’s friend take the seat, while she perched on the edge of the desk. “It’s for a book report,” Daisy told her.

 

            Sam sat down, smiling up at Daisy, before turning her attention to Lena, who was quickly skimming over the statistics of the files before her. She smiled up at Sam after reaching the end of the first page, “you’re the best. Thank you.”

 

            “No problem, boss,” Sam said, giving her a smile, “I was going to present it at the board meeting, but I thought you might want a heads up.”

 

            “Thanks, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about the board meeting, actually,” Lena sighed, “are you free on Monday? We can get coffee and go over everything. I would say Sunday, but you know how Kara feels about me talking about business at the girls’ soccer match.”

 

            Giving her a knowing look, Sam smiled, “did you want to do the morning? I can drop Ruby off and meet you straight away. I know you’ve got that meeting with Maxwell Lord over lunch.”

 

            “Sounds great. I’ll message you about it, and I’ll see you at the game on Sunday, if not before,” Lena told her.

 

            “Perfect,” Sam said, climbing to her feet and reaching out to give Daisy’s knee a quick squeeze, “be good for your mom, okay?”

 

            Daisy rolled her eyes as she smiled, “bye Sam.”

 

---

 

            At lunchtime, they ate their food on the bench in the park Lena had built across the road from her office. She’d built it when they’d first thought about adopting, knowing that balancing work and motherhood wouldn’t be easy, but not wanting to miss anything. When she’d gone back to work, a few months after Daisy was born, Kara had come by every day, and they’d each lunch in the park, and as their little girl had grown older, they’d spent their lunchtimes watching her play on the playground, kissing her cuts better when she skinned her knees after her fearless attempts to climb to the top of the nearby trees, or pushing her on the swings. Lena hadn’t wanted to miss out on anything because of work, and even now, both girls were frequent visitors to her office. Daisy was less exuberant than usual as they bundled up in their coats and scarves, braving the cold weather as they looked at the skeletal trees and the grey sky.

 

            Christmas was only just a few weeks off, and soon enough it would start snowing, and Lena couldn’t wait for them all to go to Midvale so they could get away from everything. First, they’d be going to visit Eliza, just for the weekend, and Lena was hoping that it would help Kara relax. Lena’s birthday had only been a month ago, and Kara had been completely normal then, with her easy laughter and quick smiles as they celebrated with their family and all of their friends who had flown in for the party, but after she had seen Mike, something had flipped inside. It was only a miniscule change, and no one had even really noticed, because Kara was so good at pretending that things were normal, but Lena saw right through it. Thanksgiving had only been a week ago, and no one had noticed that she was acting funny – not even Eliza, who had flown in for the family dinner – and Lena was worried that Kara would spiral even more, especially with the worry of her own daughter wanting to enlist. She didn’t want everyone else to worry, because she knew that they did a lot when it came to Kara. She was hoping everything would die down, but apparently not, because as she finished off her salad, a figure stopped a few feet away, catching her attention.

 

            Looking up, Lena gave the man a hesitant smile, which he returned, before taking a step closer. “Hi, you’re Lena Luthor, right?” Nodding, Lena frowned slightly – it wasn’t someone she knew, because everyone knew she was married and didn’t go by just Luthor anymore – wondering who the man was. It wasn’t uncommon for people to ask who she was, but he didn’t really look like a fan. He was tall and dark haired, a bit of stubble covering his jaw, and a vaguely familiar look about him, by Lena wasn’t sure why. Daisy watched curiously as the man stepped forward, holding out a hand. “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Mike Matthews.”

 

            Lena’s stomach dropped, and her heart sped up as she stared at him. She realized that Kara was right, and he didn’t really look that different – only older – but Lena didn’t know his face well enough to pin it in the first place. She’d never met him, and only seen one photo of him, back when Kara used to send her photos while she was away. Conscious of the fact that her oblivious daughter was sat beside her, Lena forced a smile onto her face, wiping her clammy hand on her coat, before taking his hand. “Mr Matthews. If you’ll excuse me, I have to be getting back to work now.”

 

            “I’m sorry, I know you must be busy, but can I have a few minutes of your time? Please,” he asked, an uncertain, but hopeful, look on his face.

 

            Sighing, Lena nodded, turning to look at Daisy, “stay here.” Climbing to her feet, she started walking away, and Mike followed after her, not stopping until they were out of earshot and sight of Daisy, and then Lena whirled around. “I’m not sure what you’re doing, but you need to leave. Immediately.”

 

            “I know it’s a bit odd, but I just … I guess she told you about me, and what she did for me. I didn’t know how else to reach out to her, but I just moved to town and I had no idea she lived here, but I’d like to reach out to her now,” he blurted out before Lena could stop him.

 

            “You’re out of line coming to my company while my daughter is here,” Lena hissed.

 

            He blinked in surprise, “she had kids? I mean, I know she married you, but wow … I’m happy for her.”

 

            Lena felt panic well up inside her, and she knew she had to leave. “I’m sorry, Mr Matthews, but I can’t help you. I wish I could, but I don’t want Kara to have to relive everything. She’s already shaken up from seeing you the other day.”

 

            “I know, so am I,” he quietly said, “I have no intention of seeing her again, but when we bumped into each other, it all felt so fresh. I just want to talk to her. I never even got the chance to thank her. Here, just … take my number. Tell her that I’d love to get coffee sometime, or just … if she needs anything.” He held out a scrap of paper that he’d just hastily scribbled his number on, and Lena warily took it, her hands shaking slightly, and not from the cold.

 

            “I’ll pass it on,” Lena murmured, “now, you should go.”

 

            He nodded, giving her a small smile, “thank you, Miss Luthor.”

 

            She didn’t reply, she just brushed past him and retraced her steps back towards Daisy, and took a seat next to her, murmuring something about it being a random person trying to sell her an idea when Daisy asked who he was. She wasn’t sure if her daughter bought it, because she knew that she was three shades paler than usual, and she’d looked like she’d seen a ghost. Feeling jittery as she sat outside, Lena didn’t want to go back into her office, and abruptly climbed to her feet, crumpling up her brown paper bag and throwing it in the recycling bin.

 

            “Come on, let’s get ice cream,” she said to Daisy, who looked up in surprise.

 

            “Mom, it’s December,” her daughter said, arching an eyebrow in surprise. Lena couldn’t help but smile at the expression, knowing that it was a habit that Daisy had picked up from her, not a genetic one, and raised her own in reply.

 

            “You don’t want ice cream?”

 

            Climbing to her feet and stamping slightly to get some warmth into her toes, Daisy shrugged, “I mean, yeah, but I’m freezing my ass off out here.”

 

            “Careful, or next time I’ll make you put money in the swear jar,” Lena warned her, her lips curling up into an amused smile, “how about we go for pie then?”

 

            “I could do pie,” Daisy smiled, and Lena laughed, looping her arm through her daughter’s and pulling her towards Downtown. She was surprised when Daisy didn’t shrug it off, burying her hands into her pockets instead, and ducking her head down as Lena began walking.

 

            They walked down the sidewalk, heads bowed against the wind, and feet kicking up fallen leaves that blew past, until Lena ducked into the nearest diner that sold pie. She’d been here before, so she knew it was good, and quickly slipped onto the cracked vinyl seat of the booth, while Daisy sat down opposite her, her face hidden by the faded baseball cap. Lena sighed, reaching out and taking the cap off and giving her daughter a pointed look as Daisy scowled, running a hand through her tangled hair. Sliding a menu across the table to Daisy, Lena looked down at her own, squinting slightly as she read the small writing – her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, but she was too proud to admit that she might need glasses – and she decided on apple, being a traditional kind of person. A waitress came over with a little notepad, scribbling down Lena’s order for apple pie, and Daisy’s cherry pie, as well as two hot chocolates. They were both silent as they waited for their drinks to come, and it wasn’t until Daisy had her hands wrapped a hot chocolate, almost overflowing with marshmallows, that she looked up at Lena. “Mom … if I don’t take over the company, and neither does Lily, who’ll run it?”

 

            “Is this about the army again?” Lena sighed, and Daisy shrugged slightly. “Just because I own it, it doesn’t mean that I automatically run it. So even if you don’t want to run it, you’ll still own it when I give it to you, but the board will pick someone. They pick anyway.”

 

            “So they picked you to run your own company?” Daisy asked.

 

            Lena smiled slightly, “grandma put my name forward when she stepped down, and the board agreed. That’s what I did with Gayle. It’s fine if you don’t want to run the company, love – I never would’ve forced you to, and I used to feel the same way – I just don’t want you going into the army. You can take a gap year if you don’t know what you want to do.”

 

            “But I do know. I want to go into communications; I’m good with computers,” Daisy sighed, “are you going to tell Lily that she shouldn’t be a doctor when she graduates?

 

            “If you want to work with computers, you’ll need a degree first,” Lena pointed out, “your mom got a degree in biology before she enlisted.”

 

            Daisy sighed, taking a sip of her drink, before she looked back up at Lena, “so if I get a degree, I can enlist?”

 

            “No,” Lena told her with a smile.

 

            The pie came after that, and they moved onto other topics, like the party next weekend that Daisy wanted to go to, which Lena reminded her that she couldn’t go to because she was grounded, and they fell into a one-sided conversation as Lena tried to get her daughter to talk to her. She usually wasn’t so moody all the time – only just a little bit less – but being grounded, as well as being told no to everything, had made her a lot more sullen than Lena was used to. Sighing, she took a bite of her pie and looked at the door as a woman walked past with a dog. With a thoughtful look on her face, Lena finished the rest of her pie, before looking at Daisy as a smile spread across her face.

 

            “Come on, there’s somewhere I want to go.”

 

---

 

            The sounds of numerous voices reached her ears as she opened the front door, waving Daisy in ahead of her, and knew that it was Alex, Maggie and Carter, having already seen their car out the front of the house. The smell of lasagna drifted from the kitchen, and Lena smiled slightly; she loved it when they had family dinners, which were often, and loved their game nights even more, because it made her feel young again. When they were all together, it was like she’d never grown up – especially with Maggie around. This time, she had a surprise though, and she carried the shopping bags through the house, not even bothering to take off her shoes and coat as she smiled over her shoulder at Daisy, jerking her head towards the kitchen.

 

            Everyone was seated at the table or on the bar stools, while Kara mixed up a salad, looking up with a smile on her face as she looked at Lena. “Hey, I invited everyone over – obviously. I didn’t expect you so early.”

 

            "Where's my favourite rebel?" Maggie asked, smirking at Lena as she tilted her head to the side.

 

            Daisy laughed from behind Lena, "I'm right here, Aunt Maggie."

 

            “Please, Maggie, she doesn't need anymore encouragement. And we, uh, we went shopping,” Lena said, giving Kara a wide smile, and trying to wave to everyone with her full hands.

 

            “Oh yeah? What’d you buy?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. A guilty look crossed Lena’s face, and she gave Kara a sheepish smile as she stepped aside, letting Daisy into the kitchen. In her daughter’s arms was a little white puppy, with only the shadow of the dozens of spots that covered it, and Lena shrugged helplessly.

 

            Maggie let out a surprised laugh, “you bought a fucking dog?”

 

            “Maggie,” Alex sighed, shooting her wife a pointed look, before turning to look at Lena, “you got a dog though? Did you know about this?” She addressed Kara on the last part.

 

            Kara was staring at the puppy in her daughter’s arms with raised eyebrows, watching as Lily and Carter both jumped down from the stools to go and look at the puppy, before she turned her gaze on Lena. “You bought a dog?”

 

            Maggie laughed again, “I guess she didn’t.”

 

            Lena walked over to the counter, setting down the bags filled with all of the necessities for a dog, and walked over to Kara, cupping her face in her hands and pressing a kiss to her stunned lips. “I bought a dog.”

 

            “You bought a dog without telling me?” Kara spluttered, “Lena!”

 

            “Yes, I bought a bloody dog! I thought it’d be a nice surprise. I know how much having a dog helped make you happy, so I thought another one might be fun. Besides, the girls have been asking for one for years,” Lena quietly told her, her eyes darting over to the three laughing teenagers, oblivious to the conversation happening a few metres away from them. She caught the questioning looks off Alex and Maggie though, who knew what Athena had meant to Kara, and their reasons behind not replacing her when she’d died. “Are you mad?”

 

            “No, I’m not mad,” Kara sighed, giving her a small smile, “but I’m fine, honey. You’re worrying over nothing, and there’s nothing for a dog to fix.”

 

            Lena gave her a hesitant smile, digging a scrap of paper out of her coat pocket and holding it out to Kara. “This … it’s off Mike. He came to work today-“

 

            “While Daisy was there?” Kara asked, paling as she looked at Lena in shock.

 

            “She didn’t hear anything, but … he wants to see you again. I think seeing you has shaken him as well, and he asked me to give you that. I considered throwing it away, but … well, it’s your decision to make, and I don’t want to take that away from you,” Lena quietly said, reaching out to caress the side of Kara’s face.

 

            Kara stared down at the numbers on the paper, before she balled it up and shoved it into the pocket of her jeans. Leaning in, she kissed Lena on the cheek, “it’s fine. Thanks for relaying the message; maybe I’ll give him a call sometime.”

 

            “Kara-“

 

            “I’m fine, Lena,” Kara said, laughing slightly, “why is it bothering you so much? Do you need help?”

 

            Stiffening slightly at the almost dismissive tone, Lena dropped her hand from Kara’s arm and brushed past her, taking the bowl of salad and stalking over to the table to set it down in the middle. The lasagna would be ready by now, she assumed, so they may as well eat while it was fresh. “Come on kids, leave her alone now,” Lena said, looking over at the three girls fussing over the Dalmatian puppy. “Dinner’s ready.”

 

            Kara sighed when it was clear that Lena was going to ignore her, and walked over to the oven to turn it off, while Alex and Maggie exchanged a look, missing half of the conversation due to the noise of the three excited teenagers. “What’re you going to call her, Auntie Lena?” Carter asked, and Lena shrugged as she smiled at her niece.

 

            “What do you girls think?” she asked them, passing Kara, who was bringing the hot lasagna over to the table, and giving her a hard look. Grimacing, Kara’s eyes silently begged for Lena to not make a big deal out of it. Maggie shot Lena a questioning look as she followed Kara with a stack of plates in her hands, and Lena rolled her eyes.

 

            Daisy looked up from the dog and smiled slightly, “you had Athena before, right? How about Artemis this time. Goddess of the hunt.”

 

            “I love it,” Kara smiled, “now come on, wash your hands. And you,” she said, turning to face Lena, “come and help me pick some wine, please.” Lena cleared her throat as she followed Kara out of the kitchen, shrugging out of her coat and kicking her heels off near the door, before rejoining Kara on their way to the small door that led down to the basement. The wine cellar was fully stocked, and Kara quickly plucked the nearest bottle off a rack, before turning to face Lena. “What’s wrong?”

 

            “The fact that you’re pretending you’re fine. ‘Maybe I’ll give him a call sometime’, really, Kara,” Lena bitingly said.

 

            Kara frowned slightly, “I’m doing okay. I’m just … I’m trying not to think about it. It’s not a problem though, Lena.”

 

            Lena let out a cold laugh, “if you have to try not to think about it, it’s a problem. It’s been years since you were last like this, and you fight me on it every time. Just … let me help you, Kara, please.” Her face softened as she finished talking, and she reached out to touch Kara’s arms, giving her a pleading look.

 

            “I haven’t been to a therapist in ten years,” Kara hoarsely reply, her face looking slightly haggard in the dim light of the cellar, “I don’t know if I’m ready to go back to that. I don’t know if I’m there yet. I could- it might go away again. It always goes away.”

 

            “It’s never this bad though, darling,” Lena quietly sighed, reaching up to cup Kara’s face, wiping away a stray tear with her thumb. “I know you don’t want to go back to that – I thought a dog might help before you do need more help – but if you relapse … if there’s more triggers, you need to face it. We have kids now, Kara, and you need to decide whether lying to them is worth more than you getting help, and having them know.”

 

            Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Kara nodded, giving Lena a small smile, “I thought I was over it.”

 

            “I know you did,” Lena murmured, pulling her into a hug and kissing the side of her head as Kara buried her face in her shoulder. Rocking them gently back and forth, “I know Daisy wanting to enlist hasn’t helped things either, but don’t worry about that, okay? I’m working on a plan to change her mind, so just … leave it to me. Don’t worry about anything else, just focus on yourself. I’ve got everything else. Maybe you were right though ... about it affecting me as well. A part of me is scared that I'm going to lose you again.”

 

            “I'm not going anywhere. I love you,” Kara tearfully told her, pulling back slightly.

 

            Lena leant in and gently kissed her, “I know, and I love you too, which is why I need you to look after yourself, Mrs Danvers-Luthor. Now, put that bottle back – it’s worth thousands, and far too good to be wasted on someone like Maggie.” Her attempt at a joke earned her a weak laugh off Kara, and with another kiss, she set the bottle down. Lena picked up another one, and with another kiss, laced their hands together and led them back upstairs.

Chapter Text

            Two weeks passed by, and things progressed as usual, except for the fact that Kara was still trying to cover up the fact that she was struggling. It wasn’t anything obvious to anyone else – staring blankly at nothing for a few minutes, jumping at loud noises, and restlessly tossing and turning in her sleep – but Lena had gone through this with her before, and through the relapses into these behaviours half a dozen times over the past twenty years, and Kara couldn’t fool her. The puppy helped a little, and she smiled whenever Kara took her jogging, or let her curl up on her lap while she scratched her behind the ears. At least she had some form of support that didn’t ask any questions or want anything from her except belly rubs and for a ball to be tossed across the garden. It wasn’t enough though, and on Friday morning, Lena shot upright at the loud shout, her heart pounding in her chest at the sudden disturbance of the silence.

 

            “Kara,” she quietly said, immediately turning to her wife, who was already sitting up, her back to Lena as she sat on the edge of the bed. Lena slowly reached out, carefully touching Kara on her shoulder, feeling the tense muscles beneath the shirt she wore. Kara’s breathing was ragged in the silence, and Lena heard the shuddering breath she took as she tried to calm herself down.

 

            “I’m fine,” Kara told her.

 

            Lena bit back the retort on the tip of her tongue, slowly crawling across the bed so that she could be closer to Kara. “Can I hug you?” At the nod, Lena gently wrapped her arms around Kara, placing her chin on her shoulder and rocking them slightly as she felt the rise and fall of Kara’s chest slow beneath her touch. They were silent for a few minutes, and then Kara sighed. “Come back to bed, love,” Lena quietly murmured, but Kara reached up to undo Lena’s grip, and climbed to her feet.

 

            “I think I might go and take Artemis for a jog,” Kara quietly said.

 

            “Kara, it’s still dark out,” Lena murmured, frowning slightly as she squinted up at the pale face looking back at her in the dark room. Quietly laughing, Kara leant down, brushing Lena’s hair out of her face and placing a soft kiss to her lips. Lena smiled slightly against her warm lips, pushing back against them as much as she could. Kara pulled back after a moment, gently pressing the tip of Lena’s nose, while Lena pulled her closer. “You don’t have to go jogging. It’s freezing outside, and it would be so much warmer in bed, maybe even too warm. You might have to take your shirt off.”

 

            Letting out a quiet snort of laughter, Kara leant down and pressed a lip to the corner of Lena’s mouth, “not today.”

 

            Lena smiled slightly, reaching for Kara’s hands and giving them a quick squeeze as she felt a dull ache in her chest, “be safe. I love you.”

 

            “I love you too,” Kara murmured, before she pulled back and quietly padded over to the closet, turning the light on and rummaging around for some sweatpants and shoes. Lena stayed wrapped up in the warmth of the covers as she watched Kara’s silhouette dress and head for the door. Listening to the quiet echoes of Kara’s footsteps on the stairs, Lena sighed, rubbing her tired eyes and hearing the faint sound of the door being shut. Climbing out of bed, she peeked outside, taking in the sight of the tiny puppy excitedly pulling at the leash as Kara jogged on the spot for a moment, lit by the automatic light near the door. A moment later, she slipped back into darkness as she quickly walked down the steps, and Lena let the curtains fall back into place, before padding over to the bathroom for a shower.

 

            The warm water washed away some of her frustration, but she still felt tense when she stepped out, wrapping a fluffy towel around herself and heading towards the closet. Rummaging through her drawers for something comfortable, she pulled out a worn t-shirt and a pair of Kara’s sweatpants and quickly changed into them, before messily putting her hair up and walking downstairs. She stifled a yawn as she set the coffee pot on and powered up her laptop, before making herself some porridge and sitting down on one of the bar stools lining the kitchen counter, getting a head start of her work for the day while she ate breakfast alone and waited for her wife to come home. It was nearing seven o’clock when the front door creaked open, and Lena was just in the process of waking up two grumpy teenagers who had inherited Kara’s love of sleeping – although she wasn’t so much a fan of it these days – and refused to get up until Lena had started tickling them, much to Daisy’s irritation. She was just walking downstairs, dressed for work in a stylishly cut dress, when Kara stepped inside, with Artemis running around in circles, the leash clipped onto her collar dragging on the floor in the process. She watched as Kara knelt down and whistled for the dog to come to her, and the puppy eagerly went to her, wagging her tail and shifting excitedly while Kara unclipped the leash and playfully riled her up. Quietly laughing, Lena walked down the last two steps, smiling at the sight, and Kara straightened up, winding up the leash and setting it down on the unit near the door. Her sweater was tied around her waist, and her hair was stuck to her sweaty forehead, but Lena was glad to see the rosiness in her cheeks as she kicked off her sneakers and picked them up, heading towards Lena.

 

            “Good run?”

 

            “Mhm,” Kara said with a small smile, dropping a kiss on Lena’s cheek, before laughing at the t-shirt she wore, “I haven’t seen that in years.” Looking down, Lena realized she was wearing the old shirt Maggie had picked up for her on her and Alex’s trip to Italy all those years ago, and she let out a quick laugh as she plucked at the bottom of it and shrugged. “I’m going to shower.”

 

            Lena gave her a soft smile, “I’ll make you breakfast. Are waffles okay?”

 

            “You hate it when I have sugary foods for breakfast, and you’ve made pancakes, waffles or unhealthy cereal every day the past few weeks. I’m not an idiot, darling,” Kara smiled, before hesitating, “waffles are fine though.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena poked her in the ribs and sent her upstairs, passing her by as she made for the kitchen and filled up the puppy’s bowl of food, laughing as she watched Artemis excitedly start spilling biscuits everywhere as she enthusiastically dug in. It felt strange, having a dog after so many years without one, but they were all already so attached to her, and Lena was glad that Kara had taken to her straight away, finding comfort in the puppy, rather than feeling worse about the fact that Athena wasn’t there to comfort her anymore. Lena just wished that there was more that Kara would let her do for her, but she understood that she needed her space to sort things out, and Lena had to trust that Kara would tell her what she needed; she always had in the past. The hardest part was tiptoeing around the girls, as well as Alex and Maggie, because Kara was adamant that she wouldn’t tell them everything – they knew enough to know that she didn’t like talking about being in the army – mostly because she didn’t want to trouble anyone. With Daisy already struggling to behave in school, Kara didn’t want to cause more tension at home after keeping secrets from her for so long, and she didn’t want her kids to view her differently. Lena knew that it had taken Kara years to cope with the fact that she had PTSD, even as it got easier, and other people’s judgment about that always made her anxious, so she kept it to herself, and now she didn’t want her kids to see her in a different light because of it.

 

            It was another fifteen minutes before Kara returned, with two scraggly looking dark haired girls in tow, both of them blinking at the light streaming in through the kitchen windows, and bumping each other as they fought for the nearest seat. Lena shook her head, sharing an exasperated look with Kara, before she pulled a waffle out of the machine and added it to the stack. There was a plate of freshly cut strawberries, straight from Lena’s garden, and bananas, and Lena nudged it across the counter to Kara, along with a cup of coffee. “Kids, come and make yourself some juice if you want it,” Lena said, pouring more batter into the machine and watching as Daisy stood up and walked into the kitchen.

 

            “Where did you get that?” she said, her forehead wrinkling as her eyebrows rose in surprise as she stared at Lena’s shirt.

 

            “It was a gift from your Aunt Maggie,” Lena laughed.

 

            Giving Lena a puzzled look, Daisy pulled some apples out of the fridge and walked over to the juicer, turning it on and shouting over the loud grinding sound as she put an apple in, “why does it say stab here?”

 

            Lena laughed, looking down at the arrows pointing to the middle of her stomach, “it’s from when I got stabbed.”

 

            The machine quietened, rumbling slightly as it waited for the next apple, and Daisy let out a snort of laughter, holding the other apples in her arms. “Yeah, right, you were stabbed.”

 

            “She was,” Kara said, taking a sip of her coffee, “it was when I was … overseas.”

 

            “Bullshit you were stabbed,” Daisy swore, rounding on Lena with a look of surprise on her face.

 

            Sighing, Kara shook her head, “Dais, come on. Quarter, jar. She gets that from you, you know.”

 

            “Bullshit she does,” Lena laughed, watching as Kara bit back a smile, giving her a pointed look as she picked up the swear jar and rattled it. “Of course, darling,” Lena laughed, “I’ll do it later. And yes, Dais, I was stabbed. I told you when you were little, I didn’t realise you forgot. You know I have that scar on my stomach; that’s how I got it. It’s why we signed you both up for Tae Kwon Do from the moment you could walk.”

 

            “I don’t believe you,” Daisy said, narrowing her eyes slightly, “next you’re going to tell me mom didn’t get her scars from surgery.”

 

            Kara choked on her coffee, trying to play it off as a cough as she made sure she didn’t spit it out, and Lena’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, before she gave Daisy an amused smile, “of course they’re from surgery.”

 

            “Hm,” Daisy said, narrowing her eyes further, before turning and shoving another apple in the juicer. Lily was listening with interest from the table, sneaking pieces of strawberries off the plate as she waited for the waffles to finish cooking. The topic was dropped after that, and Lena quickly used the rest of the batter, before placing the plate in the middle of the table and watching her three girls dig in.

 

---

 

            It was a few hours after lunch, and Lena was on the phone with Lillian, her head tilted to the side to keep it in place, while she stared intently at her computer screen. “You can’t make it to dinner tonight?”

 

            “I’m sorry, honey, but I’m going to be out of town. It’s for a business meeting,” Lillian told her.

 

            “Oh … Kara didn’t mention anything about a meeting,” Lena said, “are you sure you don’t want her to go instead? I could go with her too.”

 

            Lillian laughed slightly, “no, no, it’s fine. It’ll only be overnight.”

 

            “Are you sure? I don’t want you to overwork yourself – you’ve been tired a lot lately,” Lena said, her mouth turning down at the corners slightly.

 

            “Well I’m already here, so I’m sure.”

 

            “Okay, well go easy on them,” Lena told her, her lips curling up into a smile at the thought of how formidable her mom was, even in her older years. If anything, she’d grown sharper over the years, but only in her business, because things with Lena and her family had been steadily getting better and better, even though things had been perfect for ages now. Sometimes it was startling to think that Lena had had a rough relationship with her for half of her life, because it all seemed so far away from the woman she knew now.

 

            She heard her mom scoff on the other end of the phone, “I will absolutely not. Now, you’d better get back to work. I’ll speak to you soon. I love you.”

 

            It had become easier to say it over the years, but it wasn’t always a common way for them to end their conversations, and Lena paused slightly, before she pushed her thoughts aside, “I love you too.”

 

            She was just hanging the phone up when Alana knocked on the door and let herself in, “sorry, ma’am, it’s the school. They were calling about your-“

 

            Lena sighed, holding a hand up to stop Alana in her tracks, already wondering what Daisy had done this time. She was still grounded, and Lena was already dreading the snarky attitude and back talking she was going to get off her daughter, and pushed her chair back. Packing up her stuff quickly, she walked out of her office, taking her coat off Alana, who had run out ahead of her to fetch it, and slipped it on. “Thank you. Can you please cancel my appointments for the rest of the afternoon too.”

 

            “Of course, ma’am,” Alana said, and Lena gave her a quick nod, before she made her way over to the elevator, pressing the button for the ground floor. She was soon in her car, already trying to force down her irritation at being called away from the office again as she slid out of her parking spot and merged into traffic.

 

            The drive to the school was quick, with most people still at work, and she was parking near the doors and walking inside with the sharp clicks of her heels on the floor from her determined stride. A part of her was wondering what she’d be paying for this time, and she scowled as she breezed down the hallway, heading straight towards the office again. Lyra looked up as she walked in, and she gave Lena a nod, climbing to her feet. “Mrs Danvers-Luthor.”

 

            “Miss Strayd,” Lena tersely greeted her, following her towards the headmistress’ office and waiting until she was waved inside, after Lyra had informed Imra that she was here.

 

            Walking inside, Lena stopped in her tracks as she took in the sight of her daughter sat in the chair in front of the desk; the wrong daughter. Lily was looking pale, with a wad of bloody tissues in her lap and an icepack pressed to her nose as she looked at Lena. One eye had a dark bruise already forming around it, and Lena let out a choked sound of surprise, rushing over and dropping down to a crouch before her baby girl, completely ignoring Imra, who was primly sat behind the desk.

 

            “God, Lils, what the hell happened to you?”

 

            “I’m fine, mom,” she said, her voice cracking slightly as her eyes watered. From where she crouched, Lena could see that her lip was split and slightly swollen too, and she felt anger flare up inside her.

 

            Whipping her head around to face Imra, Lena gave her a hard look, “Miss Ardeen, can you tell me what happened, please.”

 

            “By all means, Mrs Danvers-Luthor, have a seat,” the headmistress said, gesturing to the chair beside Lily. Lena quickly climbed to her feet, neatly sitting down in the chair and reaching out to take her daughter’s hand in her own.

 

            “I’d like to know who did this, and what you’re going to do about it,” Lena curtly asked her, an unimpressed look on her face as she kept shooting her daughter concerned glances out of the corner of her eye.

 

            She watched as Imra pressed her fingertips together, her lips set into a thin line as she looked at Lily, before her gaze shifted to Lena. “Well, see, the thing is, it was actually Lily who started the fight.”

 

            “What?!” Lena exclaimed, whirling around to face her daughter, “Lily, you didn’t.”

 

            Her daughter burst into tears, and Lena sighed, reaching out to cup her head and leant over to kiss her dark hair. “I’m sorry, mom, but they were- she just- I didn’t mean to,” Lily cried, her words coming out thick from her swollen nose and lips.

 

            “What happened?” Lena wearily asked Imra, rubbing soothing circles onto her daughter’s arm as she buried her face in her mom’s shoulder.

 

            “There were some … comments,” Imra hesitantly said, “from what I can tell, they were unkind towards your family, and Miss Danvers-Luthor was upset by them.”

 

            “Right,” Lena slowly replied, frowning slightly as she tried to figure out what had made her usually bubbly and placid daughter snap enough to start a fight, and have the shit beaten out of her by the looks of things. “So, what happens now?”

 

            Imra gave her a grim smile, “considering the fact that we’ve never had trouble from Lily before, I’m willing to overlook it this time and settle for one week of detention – the same for the other student – and leave it at that. We have zero tolerance for fighting here though, and next time I won’t be so lenient.”

 

            Lena stiffly nodded, “thank you, Miss Ardeen. I’ll take Lily home for the rest of the day.”

 

            “That would probably be best,” the other woman agreed.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Lena kept one hand on Lily’s back as she climbed to her feet as well, her head ducked down and the tissues balled up in her hands. There was blood on the collar of her white shirt, and all down the front of her sweater, and Lena pursed her lips in disapproval as she gave her a gentle nudge towards the door. “Thank you again,” Lena said, and Imra gave her a small smile as she nodded.

 

            “Good day, Mrs Danvers-Luthor.”

 

            Lily handed the ice pack back to the nurse in her office, before following Lena out of the office, heading towards the doors at a slow pace, keeping her head ducked down. It wasn’t until they were in the car, buckled up and staring at the bricks that made up the building, that Lena finally spoke. “So are you going to tell me what happened?”

 

            Shaking her head, Lily drew in a shuddering breath, wiping away a stray tear as she slid down in her seat. “I want to go home.”

 

            With a sigh, Lena fished some tissues out of her bag and handed them to Lily, before she turned the key in the ignition and reversed out of her spot. Turning on the radio, she let music flood the car, filling the silence with the soft voice of the singer as they made for the outskirts of the city. They didn’t say anything the entire ride home, but Lena couldn’t help but reach out every so often to help but reach over and smooth Lily’s hair or give her shoulder a slight squeeze in reassurance. She was mad at her daughter for fighting, but right now, her worry outshone her anger, because it was so out of character for Lily – perhaps not so much Daisy, although she’d never been in a fistfight – and Lena couldn’t stop thinking about what had upset her that much. She pushed a button to open the gate at the entrance of the estate and slowly began the winding drive up to the house, staring out at the barren trees and listening to her daughter sniff and her breathing occasionally hitch as she tried not to cry. By the time they made it to the mansion, Lena was feeling tired and grabbed hers and Lily’s bags from the back of the car, before walking up the front steps and letting them inside. Dumping the bags near the door, Lena shrugged out of her coat and kicked her heels off, smiling slightly as Artemis came bounding in and excitedly wound around hers and Lily’s legs, looking for attention.

 

            “Come on, Lils,” Lena said, “in the kitchen.” Lena led the way, heading straight for the freezer and grabbing a fistful of ice, which she wrapped in a clean dishtowel, before fetching another one and wetting it under the tap. Lily sat down on one of the bar stools, and Lena walked over to her, wincing slightly as she took in the swelling and bruises that were starting to purple, before setting the ice down on the counter. “This is going to hurt a little.”

 

            She dabbed at the dried blood that Lily hadn’t been able to wipe away with the tissues, feeling guilty every time Lily winced or let out a hiss of pain, even thought she didn’t complain once. Once her face was cleaned up, Lena handed her the ice and gave her a grim look as she took in the split knuckles on Lily’s right hand, and set about cleaning them up too. “You’d better take your sweater and shirt off so I can try and get the blood out before it stains,” Lena said, her mouth turning down at the corners, “I’ll get you a clean shirt.”

 

            Walking through the house, she went to the laundry room and plucked a folded t-shirt of the clean pile of laundry and carried it back to the kitchen, dumping it on the counter and taking the bloody clothes off Lily, who was trying not to wince as she held the ice to her sore nose. “Thanks,” she mumbled through her swollen lips, shaking the shirt out and awkwardly trying to fit one arm and her head in, while the other hand kept the ice in place. Lena shook her head slightly, walking back through the house to put Lily’s uniform straight in the washing machine.

 

            By the time she returned to the kitchen, her daughter was fully dressed and looking like a wounded puppy as she looked down at the kitchen counter, feeling miserable. Pursing her lips slightly, Lena went to the fridge and pulled out two bottles of flavoured water, before fetching two painkillers, setting them down along with the water, before she took a seat next to Lily. “So, want to tell me what happened?”

 

            “No.”

 

            “That’s not an option,” Lena said, reaching out to brush the dark curtain of hair out of Lily’s face so that she could see her face, “come on, swallow the pills – they’ll make you feel better – and tell me why you were fighting.”

 

            Grumbling slightly, Lily knocked back the two pills with a mouthful of peach water, before she started spinning the bottle cap on the counter, trying to avoid answering her mom’s question for as long as possible. “Why don’t you ever talk about your brother?”

 

            Lena blinked in surprise, feeling a little uneasy at the confronting question. All they knew about Lex was that he existed and was dead – not how, or what he’d done, and Lena and Lillian never spoke about him anymore. “He- we weren’t really that close.”

 

            “Grandma doesn’t talk about him either,” Lily said, frowning slightly at Lena, who didn’t so much as move an inch, “the girl at school … she said that he was a psychopath. She said that you were a bad person, and that I would be too.”

 

            “Well, the girl at school was wrong,” Lena hesitantly replied, “you’re a good person, and you’re kind and smart, and no one can make you think that you’re a bad person for the things that other people have done.”

 

            She climbed down from the school, brushing Lily’s hair back and kissing her on the forehead, before rounding the kitchen counters. “What about you and Lex though?”

 

            “We’ll talk about it later,” Lena told her, “in the meantime, you’re grounded for a week, and if you even think about using your martial arts to beat someone up again, you won’t be taking lessons anymore.”

 

            “Okay,” Lily meekly replied, looking guilty as she stared down at her bruised and cut knuckles. Lena pulled a packet of trail mix out of the cupboard and set it down in front of Lily, who gave her a small smile as she reached for the bag, rummaging through the mixture so that she could pick out the chocolate. “Hey mom, isn’t that your shoe?”

 

            Lena looked in the same direction as Lily, letting out an exclamation of surprise as she took in the sight of Artemis with one of the Louboutin’s she’d been kicked off near the door in her mouth. Cursing, Lena rushed over to the dog, who thought she was playing and danced backwards, tail wagging as she adjusted the shoe in her mouth, leaving more bite marks in the black leather. It took her five minutes to wrestle the heel out of the dog’s mouth, while Lily watched on in amusement, her swollen lips pressed together to stop herself from laughing, and by the time Lena came up with a slobbery ruined shoe, she was in a terrible mood, and was quietly swearing under her breath as she stalked off to find the other shoe. Artemis had switched the shoe for a chew toy which she was loudly squeaking in the kitchen, while Lily ate chocolate and tried to keep her nose numb.

 

            By the time Kara came home, with Daisy in tow, Lena was in her office, feeling tired and stressed and not in the mood to talk to anyone as she wrote a letter. Lily was in her room, with more ice pressed to her face, and Lena was scribbling at a piece of paper with a look of concentration on her face.

 

 

            Dear Kara,

 

                        When did we grow up? I’m still trying to figure out when we got old, because all of a sudden, we have not one, but TWO misbehaving teenagers, and I could swear they were our little girls only a year ago. Where’s all the time gone? Sometimes it still feels like we only just met in that coffee shop, even though we’ve had all those years of (almost) perfect happiness together. A part of me is glad they don’t know what I was like when I was their age, or I think one of them would definitely have been arrested by now if they pulled some of the shit that I did. Sometimes it surprises me at how grown up the girls are – they won’t need us anymore, in a few years – and I’m scared to admit it, but I worry that I won’t be as close to them as we are now. They drive me mad – especially on days like today – but we still have our weekends, and our family game nights, and it makes me sad to think that one day I won’t have that with them.

 

            Do you ever think about the future? What they’re going to be like as adults? Who they’re going to marry – if they do – and if they decide to have kids, or what job they end up with. I’m still holding out hope that Daisy gets that ridiculous idea out of her head and decides to go to college instead, because over my dead body will I let someone else I love go over there. The plan I was telling you about is to sign her up for a youth army cadets program, because hopefully she gets tired of lugging around an unloaded gun and being yelled at – I imagine it would go about the same as if I had gone into the army, which we both know wouldn’t have gone well at all. She might not have my genes, but she has my personality, and I’m a bit relieved that she’s so stubborn, because as soon as she gets ordered around, she’s going to want to quit straight away.

 

            I can hear the front door closing now, and I’m assuming it’s you, so I guess it’s time to go and explain that we’ve got a future boxer on our hands, and also have a long awaited conversation with the girls about what Lex did. I know we never let them google us – and all of the information is buried under year and years of new articles anyway, so I doubt they would’ve found it out on their own anyway – but I really wish that there was a better way to tell them that their uncle blew up a bunch of people.

 

            As always, your always,

 

            Lena xxx

 

 

            Folding the envelope up and shoving it into an envelope, Lena wrote Kara’s name with a flourish and sealed it, looking up as the door opened. Kara gave her a tired smile, the dark circles under her eyes more prominent than ever, and Lena’s smile faded, turning into a troubled frown. “Hi, you look exhausted. Come here.”

 

            Kara walked inside, making her way over to the desk to give Lena a soft kiss, before she pulled back, “it was a long day. Your mom didn’t show up.”

 

            “Oh, yeah, she called me. She’s at some business meeting; I thought she would’ve told you,” Lena said, her frown deepening slightly.

 

            “Business meeting? This is the first I’m hearing of this,” Kara frowned, before her eyes landed on the letter in Lena’s hand. “Is that for me?”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, “they always are. You can’t open it yet; I, uh, we need to talk first. Lily …” she sighed, giving Kara a grim look, “she got into a fight.”

 

            “A fight? Lily did?” Kara asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise, “what do you mean she got into a fight? Who was she fighting with? Why?”

 

            “Some girl made a comment about Lex – I’m assuming she has a mother who remembers what happened with him – and Lily got upset. It probably would’ve helped if she knew the truth, but now she has a lot of questions about why I never talk about him. I’m going to tell them both what he did,” Lena sighed.

 

            Kara gave her a small smile, “I’ll get dinner started while you round them both up. Let me have a talk with Lily first though.”

 

            “Don’t worry abut dinner; you look tired, we’ll just order in,” Lena said, climbing to her feet and stealing a quick kiss, before she set the letter in Kara’s hand with a small smile. “I love you.”

 

            “I love you too.”

 

---

 

            After stumbling over the conversation with the two girls, being accused of lying to them, an argument between Lena and Daisy, then another between Lena and Kara, and Lily bursting into tears halfway through, Lena had had enough. It had been a long day, and she was tired, and her patience was wearing thing, and she could see the weariness on Kara’s face, and knew it ran bone deep. After getting everyone to be quiet, she told them all to pack a bag, before storming upstairs to pack one for herself. Kara slipped in a few minutes later, and stood in the periphery of Lena’s eyesight with her arms crossed over her chest.

 

            “Where are we going?” she quietly asked her.

 

            Lena didn’t look up as she neatly packed some plaid shirts into a bag, before pulling some jeans out of her drawers. “To your moms.”

 

            “Why?”

 

            “You said you wanted to go and visit her before Christmas, so we’re going to visit her,” Lena curtly replied.

 

            Sighing, Kara walked over to her and reached out to stop her as she started packing the jeans. “Lena,” Kara softly said, “what’s wrong?”

 

            “What’s wrong?” Lena coldly laughed, “what isn’t wrong, Kara?”

 

            “I don’t know what you mean,” Kara said, her forehead furrowing in confusion, “it was all fine this morning.”

 

            “Was it?”

 

            “Yes, it was,” Kara stiffly replied, “it was fine until things got blown out of proportion. Lily’s crying because she thinks it’s her fault that everyone’s arguing, Daisy’s pissed because of course she is because no one told her about her uncle, and you … I don’t know what’s been going on with you lately. You're worried about everything. Is it work? Are you stressed about work? Maybe you shouldn’t have bought the other company.”

 

            Lena straightened up, abandoning the jeans as she looked at Kara, her green eyes angry and her face stiff. “I’m not stressed about work. I’m stressed because you won’t talk to me, no matter how much I try to help – and don’t you dare say that you’re fine. When was the last time you woke up screaming? It hasn’t happened in so long that I couldn’t even tell you when. You’re not fine, and then there’s the girls-“

 

            “The girls are fine,” Kara interrupted her, “they’re allowed to mess up, Lena, they’re kids.”

 

            “I didn’t say they weren’t,” Lena snapped.

 

            “Then why do you always get so wound up whenever they get detention, or the school calls because Daisy skipped class again? I never did those things, but I know that I was just the exception. Alex was like that and she turned out fine, and you-“

 

            “I don’t want them to turn out like me!” Lena shouted, and the silence afterwards was deafening as Kara looked at Lena with a startled look on her face.

 

            Feeling some of her anger dissipate at the truth coming out, Lena turned back around, feeling her cheeks warm slightly as she carried on packing her clothes. It was a few moments of tense silence before Kara broke it, her voice quiet as she spoke. “What do you mean?”

 

            Lena let out a slightly hysterical laugh, crossing over to the closet and coming back out with some shoes and a coat and tossing them onto the bed, before she went back inside for some jumpers. Kara was patiently waiting for her to answer her question, and it wasn’t until she reached out and gently touched Lena on her arm that their eyes met. Lena’s were glistening slightly, almost as if she was fighting back tears, and she gave Kara a slightly bitter smile as she met her concern blue stare. Dumping the jumpers onto the bed, Lena sat down, running her hand through her hair as she let out a weary sigh. “You know how messed up I was, Kara. I was a mess when we met, and I didn’t know how to do any of this – relationships, marriage, motherhood, family. I didn’t get my shit together until I was twenty-five, and god, I don’t want them to be like me. I’m trying so hard not to be my parents, because I don’t want them to be scared, alone in their room while we’re fighting, and I don’t want them acting out in school to get our attention. I don’t want them to be me. You know how hard it was for me to work things out with my mom, and I don’t want to have to go through that with them – I don’t want the girls to hate me. I’m scared that I’m not good enough to not do it though; I’m scared that they’re not going to know how to- how to love properly, or how to open up to people, and have friends. I don’t want that for them – I don’t want to fail them. I’m doing the best that I can, but I don’t know if it’s enough.”

 

            She was shaking by the end of it, and blinking back tears, her dark hair spilling around her face as she looked down at her hands in her lap. And then Kara was crouched down in front of her, reaching out to tenderly brush her hair out of her face and hold her hand, a soft look of love and concern on her face as she smiled slightly. “Lena, you’re a great mom. It doesn’t matter that it took you so long to move past being hurt by your family, or learning how to let people in, because you still did it. You know that the girls know you love them, and we’ve done such a good job of raising them together. They’re not perfect, but they’re kind, and they’re smart, and they’re both so loving – that’s because of you too. They love you – I love you – and nothing will change that. I know that things are … well, it’s a bit of a rough patch right now, but everything’s fine. You still have me, and I still have you.”

 

            Slowly exhaling, Lena tilted her head to the side slightly, giving Kara a small, sad smile, “I just don’t want you to hurt anymore. I don’t want the girls to worry about whether everything’s okay between us, and I just … I want us to go to your moms and just not have to worry about things for a few days.”

 

            “Then I’ll start packing,” Kara told her, standing up from her crouch and tilting Lena’s head up, before leaning down to kiss her. Lena smiled into it slightly, pushing back against Kara’s warm lips and climbing to her feet as she pushed them both up. After another lingering kiss, Kara pulled back and Lena turned to finish packing her bags.

 

            Within the hour, the four of them, and a very excited puppy, were all bundled up into the back of the car, heading towards the airport, where their private jet was waiting to take them to Midvale. The drive and flight were mostly silent, with Daisy sullenly listening to music the entire plane ride there, while Lily stretched out along the seats, her head in Lena’s lap, and Kara finished off the pizza they’d stopped off to get on the way over, with Artemis curled up asleep in her lap too, while her pizza-free hand held a book open. It wasn’t a long flight, and soon enough they were all piling into the car that they kept at the airport for their visits, and Kara drove them through the dark town, heading towards Eliza’s. It wasn’t too late, so the front porch light was still on, meaning that Eliza was still awake, and Kara flipped the headlights off and climbed out of the car, making straight for the house with Artemis scrambling through the gap between the two front seats to jump out after her. Lena and the two girls fetched their bags, and followed after Kara, who was already stepping inside and calling out to her mom. As soon as Lena stepped inside, she took her shoes off, while the girls did the same, listening to the quiet hum of voices coming from the kitchen, before she turned and gave the girls hers and Kara’s bags and told them to take it upstairs for her. Something wasn’t right – she could feel it. Slowly, she slipped her coat off and hung it up beside Kara’s, before silently padding down the hallway.

 

            “Please don’t tell Lena,” she heard a familiar voice say as she walked through to the kitchen, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise when she saw Lillian sat at the table, a pleading look on her pale, tired face as she stared up at Kara. Her footsteps alerted everyone to her presence, and Lena frowned slightly as Kara, Lillian and Eliza turned to look at her.

 

            “Mom? I thought you were at a business meeting. And tell me what?”

Chapter Text

            “Lena,” Lillian said, her smile not quite reaching her eyes as she looked at her daughter, “I thought I’d make a stop and see Eliza on my way back from the meeting.”

 

            The words sounded false, even to Lena’s ears, and she took a wary step further into the room, “tell me what?”

 

            “Lena,” Kara quietly said, walking over to her and resting a hand on her shoulder, “why don’t-“

 

            “Tell me what?” Lena asked again, her voice a little more strained as she started to panic slightly, “what is it? What’s wrong?”

 

            Lillian slowly climbed to her feet, walking over to Lena and giving her a small smile, “how about we talk on the porch?”

 

            Frowning, Lena walked back down the hallway and opened the front door, stepping out into the cold and taking a seat on the swing. She looked up when Lillian stepped out a moment later, a coat buttoned up, wringing her hands slightly as she walked over to the porch swing and sat down beside Lena. The silence stretched on for a few moments, and Lena could feel her heart racing in her chest as she waited for her mom to speak, but she didn’t. Closing her eyes, Lena let out a shaky breath, feeling her breathing hitch slightly. “Just say it,” she quietly rasped, “you’re sick, right? You have been for a while. What is it? Is it cancer? Parkinson’s? Is it your heart?”

 

            “They ... they found a lump,” Lillian quietly told her, and Lena climbed to her feet, feeling her heart stumble slightly as her breathing hitched.

 

            “No,” she whimpered, her eyes filling with tears as she looked out at the darkness, the unspoken meaning behind Lillian’s words filling her with dread.

 

            “I’m going to be okay, Lena. They said there’s a good chance,” Lillian said. Letting out a sob, Lena wrapped her arms around herself, her breathing increasing as she felt everything crumble. She’d been trying to balance Kara’s slow spiral back into her old habits, work, and the children, and now this news left her reeling. “Lena,” Lillian said from behind her, sitting on the porch swing, waiting for her daughter to process her words and sit back down.

 

            Instead, Lena quickly ran down the front porch steps, taking off down the driveway and ignoring Lillian shouting after her. She had never been much of a jogger, and usually complained when Kara dragged her along, but as she left the house behind, she found herself picking up speed, until her lungs were burning, and she didn’t feel the cold through her thin jumper - she hadn’t put on a coat. By the time she stopped, the cold air was like a knife to her lungs every time she breathed, and the tracks left behind by her tears were starting to freeze slightly on her face. She knew where she was the moment she began to slow, her breath coming out in white puffs before her, until she felt her stomach lurch and knew she was going to be sick. Bracing herself against the trunk of a tree, she was sick all over the tangled roots, and brushed her hair back with a shaking hand, before bursting into tears. Wiping the back of her hand across her mouth, she sank down to the ground, curling up at the base of the tree, making sure to avoid the vomit, and tried to suppress her sobs, not wanting to disturb the quiet of the night.

 

            She wasn’t sure how long she was sat there, before headlights cut through the darkness, illuminating the headstones scattered around the graveyard, and the door was opened. Hurried footsteps crunched the frozen grass as Eliza walked over to her, crouching down before her and reaching out to rub some warmth into Lena’s arms. She didn’t realise that she was shivering, and her teeth chattered slightly as she hugged herself as tightly as possible. “Oh god, honey you’re freezing,” Eliza murmured, reaching out to uncurl Lena’s cold fingers and rub some warmth into them, “come on, let’s get you into the car.”

 

            “No,” Lena hoarsely replied.

 

            “You’re going to freeze, sweetie. Just ... come and sit in the car. We can stay, but you’re so cold,” Eliza gently told her, guiding her to her feet and wrapping an arm around her waist as she led her to the car, Lena stumbling along, feeling stiff and her movements jerky as she let herself be herded towards the car.

 

            The relief from the cold was immediate as she climbed into the front seat, Eliza shutting the door behind her, before walking around to the driver’s side. The heating was cranked all the way up, and Lena’s frozen hands were stinging slightly from the sudden warmth, and her whole body was wracked with violent shivers. They were both silent for a few moments, before Lena numbly turned to look at Eliza, who was looking at her with concern etched into the lines of her face. “How did you find me?”

 

            “The two of you visit the place she was buried whenever you’re here, even if the headstone isn’t there anymore. There’s only so many places you could’ve gone to be alone. My next bet was the park,” Eliza quietly explained, shrugging out of her coat as she spoke, and draping it around Lena’s shoulders, before she reached out to gently smooth her hair out of her face.

 

            The gentleness of the gesture reminded Lena of her mom - it was a such a maternal thing to do - and she closed her eyes as tears slid down her cheeks, before she was overcome with another bout of sobs. Reaching across the middle console, Eliza pulled Lena as close as she could, wrapping her arms around her and guiding her daughter-in-law’s head into her chest, while Lena buried her fave into Eliza’s sweater, her shoulders shaking as she cried. “Shh, you’re okay, sweetheart. She’s okay. I’m going to help her,” Eliza murmured as she gently rocked the crying woman in her arms back and forth.

 

            It was a few more minutes before Lena had stopped crying again, and Eliza started the car, driving then back to her house. As the lights of the porch and various rooms in the house came into sight, Lena let out a shuddering breath, feeling dread spread throughout her at the thought of confronting the truth - she didn’t want to, and had ever been good at handling painful problems. As Eliza parked the car out the front, she turned the engine off and climbed out, walking around to the passenger side to open the door for Lena. She didn’t move though; she sat frozen in her seat, belt buckled with Eliza’s coat still draped around her shoulders, and, too scared to move, Lena started crying again. Dimly award of the door closing again, she folded her arms and leant against the dashboard as she sobbed, undisturbed until the drivers side opened a few minutes later, and she didn’t even have to look up to know it was Kara. Her seatbelt was quickly unbuckled, and then warm hands were pulling her into a familiar embrace, and she exhaled in relief as Kara gently stroked her hair and murmured quiet, reassuring things in between kisses to the top of her head.

 

            “I-I don’t want to lose her,” Lena choked out in between sobs.

 

            “I know, love,” Kara softly sighed, her sadness evident in the sound.

 

            “I just- I haven’t had long e-enough,” Lena said, her voice muffled by Kara’s jumper that she had her face hidden in, “we spent so long- I don’t- I wasted so long h-hating her.”

 

            She felt lips against her head, and Kara gave her a gentle squeeze. “It’s going to be okay, we-we’ll get her help - the best help - and she’ll be fine.”

 

            “How can y-you know?” Lena sobbed, desperately clutching at Kara as she cried.

 

            It was a long while before either of them moved, but eventually Kara managed to coax her wife out of the car and into the warm house. Jerkily hanging up Eliza’s coat, Lena kicked her shoes off and glanced up, noticing both of her daughters sat at the top of the stairs. Kara followed her stare and made a clucked in disapproval, “come on girls, time for bed.”

 

            “But it’s not even ten o’clock yet!” Daisy protested.

 

            “No more arguments tonight,” Kara sternly told them, “bed. Now, please.” With sighs and grumbling, both girls climbed to their feet and disappeared down the hallway, followed by the telltale click of a door shutting. Kara laid a gentle hand on Lena’s shoulder, steering her into the living room, where Lillian was sitting beside Eliza, covered in blankets and holding a cup of tea. They both looked up, taking in Lena’s red eyes and puffy face, and Eliza climbed to her feet, crossing over to them and giving Lena’s hand a squeeze. “The tea on the coffee table is for you,” she murmured, before looking at Kara, “how about you come and help me do the dishes, love.”

 

            At a questioning look to Lena, and a small nod in return, Kara followed Eliza out of the room, leaving Lena alone with Lillian. Looking down at the floor, Lena took a few steady breaths, before she mustered up the courage to look at her mom. Lillian’s face was drawn and tired, and Lena hated herself for not realising that there was something wrong sooner. How could she not have known? All the times Lillian had been too tired to stay out longer, or the pallor of her skin, which she could see was sickly, now that she was looking at her; she hadn’t realised. There was pity and sadness in Lillian’s eyes as she looked at her daughter, and she gave her a small smile, reaching out for her. Lena slowly walked over to her, sitting as far away from her as the sofa allowed, and picked up the steaming cup of tea, which she clutched in her hands as if it was a lifeline. Sniffing, Lena sat there in silence, waiting for her mom to talk, but Lillian gave her a few moments to warm up and calm herself down, and Lena ended up breaking the silence first.

 

            “How long have you known?” she quietly asked, staring down at the little whirlpool on the top of her tea as it tried to settle from the shaky movements of her hands.

 

            “I found out I was right today. I trusted Eliza to run the tests properly,” Lillian told her.

 

            “But how long did you suspect?”

 

            Lillian was quiet for a few moments, before she hesitantly replied. “A couple of weeks.”

 

            Sharply looking up at her, Lena frowned as a wounded look crossed her face, “and you didn’t tell me? You weren’t even going to tell me tonight were you?”

 

            Softly sighing, Lillian gave her the barest hint of a smile, “I was going to tell you after I had surgery.”

 

            “After,” Lena humorlessly laughed, “right, you were just going to wait until you had to.”

 

            “I didn’t want you to worry,” Lillian gently told her, “you’ve got so much on your plate already, and you’ve been doing so well.”

 

            Lena let out a small strangled sound, because it was almost laughable just how well she wasn’t doing. This seemed to be the icing on the cake, because of course there would be something else wrong. Setting her cup of tea down, Lena wrapped her arms around herself and looked at the flames crackling in the fireplace, as she felt the pain in her heart. “What’s the plan?”

 

            She didn’t look at Lillian while she asked, but her mom answered her all the same, keeping the distance between them, because she knew the moment she touched Lena, her daughter was going to breakdown. “I’m going to reach out to my old coworkers. I know the best surgeon for the job, so I’ll ask her to perform the mastectomy - it hasn’t progressed far enough for it to reach my lymph nodes yet. I could- I could even just get a lumpectomy, but I want to make sure it’s all- ... they’ll do radiation and chemo afterwards. There’s a good chan-“

 

            “Do not say there’s a good chance again,” Lena quietly moaned, putting her head in her hands as her eyes filled with tears again. “If it doesn’t ... how long?”

 

            Lillian was silent for a moment, before she let out a heavy sigh, “the average prognosis for breast can-“

 

            “Don’t say it,” Lena sharply told her, closing her eyes as if she could hide from the truth.

 

            “It’s is five years, with treatment.”

 

            “That’s not long enough,” Lena sobbed, and that was when Lillian finally reached out to touch her, and Lena fell to pieces. “I-I didn’t get to-to love you long enough.”

 

            “You love me now, and that’s all that matters,” Lillian said, her voice shaking slightly as she moved closer, pressing a kiss to the top of Lena’s head, while she wrapped her arms around her. “The last twenty-one years ... I’ve been so grateful to you, and no matter what, I’ve cherished that time.”

 

            “But it’s not enough time,” Lena sobbed, burying her face in Lillian’s jumper. She didn’t look like a middle-aged mom anymore - it was like she was a child again, and she just needed her mom to hold her and tell her it would be okay, even though she knew that it wouldn’t. “It’s not f-fair.”

 

            Lillian made quiet hushing sounds as she rocked them slightly, trying not to cry herself - Lena couldn’t even remember the last time she had seen her mom cry. “It’s okay, it’ll all be okay, Lena.”

 

            It only made her cry harder, and she didn’t stop for what felt like at least an hour. By the time that Kara reappeared, Lena was stretched out on the sofa, her head in Lillian’s lap, staring blankly at the fire while her mom gently stroked her hair, shaking occasionally from a random sob or hitched breathing. She couldn’t even concentrate on what was being said, she just stared numbly at the flickering orange flames, feeling everything fall apart. The last time she had hurt this much, Kara had died, but this hurt in a different way. Her mom was still here, and there was a very real chance that she would watch her slip away before her very eyes, as opposed to the harsh way Kara had been abruptly torn from her, and at least she’d come back from that. If her mom’s treatment didn’t work, there was no coming back from it, and Lena didn’t want to face that truth.

 

            “Lillian, you should go to bed,” Kara quietly told her, coming over to crouch down in front of her wife, “you need to rest. You can stay in my room, with Lena. I’ll squeeze in with the girls or my mom.”

 

            “Thank you dear, I’ll go up in a moment,” Lillian told her, gently rubbing her hand up and down Lena’s arm as she stared down at her daughter. It was another few minutes before Lillian leant down to kiss Lena on her forehead, giving her a gentle pat to sit up. Kara was waiting with outstretched hands, carefully guiding her wife up into a sitting position, before helping Lillian to her feet. She seemed to think it was funny, and quietly laughed as she waved away Kara’s help. With a small sigh, she looked down at Lena, who wouldn’t meet her eyes, smiling slightly. “Will you not give your mom a kiss goodnight?”

 

            Lena let out a strangled sound, climbing to her feet and wrapping her arms around Lillian in a tight hug, before kissing her on the cheek and pulling back. “Goodnight. I’ll see you in the morning, I guess.”

 

            “Lena-“

 

            “Get some rest. You look tired,” Lena said, looking everywhere but at her mom and wife as she spoke. The only way it hurt less was if she pretended like nothing was wrong, and buried the hurt deep down inside – something she hadn’t done for a very long time – but she wasn’t fooling anyone.

 

            “Goodnight, I love you,” Lillian quietly told her, and Lena just turned her head away from her, closing her eyes and clenching her teeth, as if it hurt to know that her mom loved her and that it could be taken away from her. “Goodnight, Kara.”

 

            Lena slowly sank back down onto the sofa, her hands clenched into fists as she stared at the cup of tea, which was cold by now. She didn’t acknowledge her mom leaving the room, or Eliza and Kara’s quiet whispering in the hallway, she just sat there, frozen in place, still reeling from the shock of the fact that her mom was sick. “Hey, do you want to go to bed?” Kara asked, startling Lena slightly as she jerked her head up to look at her. Frowning slightly, Lena shook her head, before looking back down. “Lena.”

 

            Kara’s voice was so soft, and Lena almost couldn’t stand the pity in it, and the fragile way that she was being treated. She hated all of this, and she didn’t know how to cope. She’d never been much of a shouter, but she wanted to just yell or do something – anything to vent her anger right now, because she was so angry. Everything always seemed to go wrong, and she hated it, and a part of her wondered what she’d done to deserve it. “I think I’d like to be alone,” Lena mumbled.

 

            Crouching down in front of her, Kara took both of Lena’s hands in her own, uncurling the fingers from the fists before she gouged deep marks into her palms, and pressed kisses to the knuckles on both of them. “Are you sure? We don’t have to talk – I can just ... I can sit here with you for a while.”

 

            “Alone,” Lena repeated, barely able to make her lips move. She’d always been good at being alone – it came from spending her childhood alone and isolated – and it had been so long since she’d ever craved it. All she’d ever wanted was a loving family, and she’d had that for two decades, but there was that part of her that was still that little girl who was always alone, and she couldn’t help but recede back into that loneliness as she sat on the sofa, feeling the pain that came with the fear of losing her mom all over again.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara pressed a kiss to Lena’s forehead, tenderly stroking her hair, before she murmured a few words that were lost on Lena’s ears. She was barely even aware of her leaving, and just stayed sat in the same position she had been before, until the night wore on, and the hour grew later and later. With no desire to go up and sleep, she eventually moved so that she was laying down on the sofa, and was joined by Artemis at some point, who nuzzled at her face with her wet nose, tail wagging as she snuggled into Lena’s arms. Lena let her stay, taking some small comfort in the warmth that the dog provided, and absentmindedly stroking the dog’s spotted fur as she stared up at the dark ceiling. Sleep didn’t come, but the sun eventually did.

 

            It was still rising when Eliza came downstairs, making a small sound of surprise when she saw Lena still laying on the sofa. “Christ, you frightened the life out of me, honey,” she said, slowly moving into the room, “how long have you been up?”

 

            “I haven’t slept yet,” Lena croaked, blinking slowly as she looked at her mother-in-law.

 

            “You need some rest, sweetheart,” Eliza gently told her, sitting down and moving Lena’s feet into her lap, letting out a quiet laugh as Artemis wriggled out of Lena’s arms and walked across her to get to Eliza. “Your mom’s going to get the best help we can find her, okay? I’m going to help her, and Kara will too – and we’re going to help you as well. It’s in the early stages, but we’re going to be overly cautious. We’ll do everything we can to give her the best chance possible.”

 

            Lena sniffed slightly, nodding her head as she blinked back tears, “well, I guess we’ll find out.” She swung her legs around and climbed to her feet, before walking out into the hallway and putting her coat on and slipping on some shoes. One of Artemis’ leashes already occupied a place on one of the hooks near the door, and Lena took it off, before walking back to the doorway. Eliza was looking at her with concern, and Lena gave her an unconvincing smile. “I’m just, uh, going to take the dog for a walk. If Kara wakes up before I get back, tell her I won’t be long.”

 

            “Honey, you should try and sleep for a few hours,” Eliza said, while Artemis leapt off her lap at the sight of the leash. Crouching down, Lena attached the leash to the collar, and stood back up, giving Eliza another unconvincing smile.

 

            “I won’t be long.”

 

            It was foggy outside, and Lena was glad for it, because she didn’t have to see anyone or anything as she set off down the driveway, her hands deep in her pockets to keep them warm. Artemis excitedly tugged at the leash, and Lena let her pull them along as the cold bit her cheeks and turned them pink, perking her up slightly. Yesterday had drained her completely, and she didn’t want to have to face another day like that – it was too much. Lena was smart – the whole world knew that – but there was a part of her that was a frightened girl that was scared that the worst would happen. At any other point in time, it would be just as painful, but there was so much going on, that Lena was at a loss of what to do. How could she put all of her pain onto Kara, when Kara was refusing to deal with her own problems right now? Her kids still needed her to be a parent too, and she would have to be the one doing the comforting when they explained to them what was wrong with their grandma. Not to mention running two companies, which took up most of her time anyway. Now more than ever, she couldn’t afford to fall apart, so she just kept walking as her mind tried to process everything and shut out the bad parts. Feeling herself starting to panic again as her breathing sped up, Lena abruptly turned around and started walking back towards the house.

 

            She was warm by the time she got back, and quickly shucked off her coat as soon as she stepped inside, and stooped down to undo Artemis’ leash, before she made her way down the hallway. Kara, Eliza and Lillian were all sitting at the table, and they stopped talking as she walked in, with Kara jumping to her feet and rounding the table. Before she could make her way over to her, Lena turned aside and walked over to the coffee pot, grabbing a fresh cup and filling it, her shoulders tense as she faced away from everyone. “Does anyone want a refill?”

 

            Once everyone had assured her that they were fine, she nodded, taking her own cup and walking towards the back door, hoping to slip outside and watch the tide go out as the fog rolled in. As her hand fell on the door handle, Lillian spoke though, and she froze. “Lena? Why don’t you come and sit down so we can talk?”

 

            “What else is there to say?” Lena murmured.

 

            “A lot,” Eliza gently assured her, the sound of a chair being pushed back reaching Lena’s ears as her mother-in-law, who was the closest, stood up and walked over to her. With a gentle hand, she steered Lena to an empty seat, guiding her into it, before she walked into the kitchen. Kara sat back in her own seat next to Lena, and reached out to tuck a lock of hair behind wife’s ear, and Lena didn’t have to meet her eyes to know that they would be troubled – filled with concern and worry for her.

 

            Taking a sip of her coffee, Lena met Lillian’s stare and arched an eyebrow, “go on then.”

 

            “I’m waiting for confirmation off my surgeon, but I’m hoping to get the surgery over and done with on Wednesday,” Lillian told her, her tone brusque, as if it was just another business conversation. “I’ll start radiation and chemotherapy as soon as possible after that – assuming it all goes well. If-if it doesn’t … my lawyers have everything you need-“

 

            “Okay, we’re not doing this right now,” Lena interrupted her, placing her hands flat on the table, almost as if she was going to push herself to her feet and run away, as she had been prone to doing whenever she had been hurt growing up. “I’m not going to sit here and listen to how you might die, before we’ve even had breakfast.”

 

            “Grandma’s dying?” a small voice from the doorway said, and Lena looked up to see Lily standing there, her face pale and her blue eyes wide as she looked at Lena.

 

            Kara quickly shot to her feet, and Lillian turned in her seat, giving her granddaughter a loving smile, reaching out a hand for Lily to come in and take. “Wha- no, no, I’m not, darling, your mom’s just upset,” Lillian quickly assured her.

 

            “Mom,” Lena stiffly replied.

 

            “Mom? What’s going on?” Daisy asked, stretching widely as she read the tension in the room.

 

            Sighing, Lena ran a hand over her weary face, picking up her coffee and taking another sip. “Everything’s … fine, sweetheart,” Kara said, waving Daisy over to an empty chair, before she climbed to her feet and went to help Eliza with breakfast in the kitchen.

 

            “Your grandma has been helping me out with some hospital stuff,” Lillian started to explain, giving both girls a reassuring smile, “but it’s all okay. I’m just … I’m going to be sick for a little while, but I’m going to be okay at the end of it.”

 

            “Grandma, I’m seventeen, I’m not an idiot,” Daisy scoffed, and Lena managed a tiny smile at her daughter’s attempt at cutting the bullshit, “what’s wrong with you? How sick are you?”

 

            Sighing, Lillian grimaced slightly, “by god, you have your mother’s stubbornness. It’s- it’s cancer, sweetie, but it’s early, and I’ll be fine.”

 

            Daisy blinked in surprise, her eyes turning glassy with tears as she turned to look at Lena, taking in her mom’s pale face, and the tired circles around her eyes. Lena could barely stand to look her own daughter in the face, knowing that she looked a mess – it wouldn’t do anything to help chase away her worries. “Mom?”

 

            Slowly looking up, Lena gave her a small smile, “grandma’s going to be fine. We’re super rich, right? So that means we can get her the best of everything, and she knows a really good doctor that can help.”

 

            An uncertain look passed both of the girl’s faces, and Daisy frowned slightly – a little more skeptical, even though she didn’t say anything. “You promise you’re going to be fine?” Lily asked, swallowing the lump in her throat as she looked at Lillian with tear-filled eyes.

 

            “I promise,” Lillian said, giving her a steady smile, “now, come and give me a hug. I don’t want either of you to worry.”

 

---

 

            Lena was sitting on the edge of Kara’s old bed, staring at a framed photo that she held in her hands. She had said she was taking a nap, but she’d been sitting there for over an hour, looking at the photo of her and Kara, and avoiding everyone. She wasn’t in the mood to talk, and knew the only way she would be left alone was if they thought she was asleep. Apparently she wasn’t fooling everyone though, because the door cracked open, and Daisy poked her head in. “Mom?”

 

            Setting the photo back on the nightstand, Lena looked at Daisy and smiled, “are you okay?”

 

            “Are you?” Daisy huffed, her eyes slightly red from crying, “you said you were sleeping. Why are you just sitting up here alone?”

 

            “I was just … thinking,” Lena lamely explained, “what’s wrong?”

 

            “Was grandma lying when she said she’d be fine?” Daisy quietly asked, shutting the door as she crossed over to the bed and sat down beside her mom. “I didn’t want to ask, because I don’t want Lily to worry, but … I don’t want grandma to die. Will she?”

 

            Sighing, Lena wrapped her arm around her daughter’s shoulders, turning her head to kiss her cheek as she ran her hand up and down her arm. “You know what, Dais,” Lena sighed, “I won’t lie to you; she might die. There’s a very good chance she won’t though, and it might be a few years before she does. With any surgery, there’s a risk. Grandma won’t have less than the best though, and she has all of us.”

 

            “So you think she’ll be okay?”

 

            Lena faltered for a second, the telltale burning feeling in her eyes as they prickled with tears, “I hope so.”

 

            “Mom?”

 

            “Yes, love,” Lena murmured, resting her head on Daisy’s shoulder, because she was already taller than Lena was.

 

            “I’m sorry for getting mad at you yesterday,” Daisy said, looking slightly ashamed as Lena peeked up at her. Her eyebrows were drawn together in a frown, and her blue eyes looked troubled, and Lena hated to see her worrying so much.

 

            Raising her head, Lena gave her a small smile, brushing her dark hair out of her face and fixing the rumpled collar of the dark shirt Daisy was wearing. “It’s fine. We’ll talk about it some other time, when I can explain everything properly. I never did get to tell you it all.”

 

            Daisy let out a quiet laugh, “I’ll try not to get mad.”

 

            “Thanks,” Lena sighed, “do you want to try and behave for me and your mom too?”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Daisy hunched her shoulders slightly, “yeah, I’ll try.”

 

            Smiling, Lena looked up as the door opened again, and Kara shouldered her way in with two cups of tea in hand, which she was trying hard not to spill everywhere. “Oh, Dais, I thought you were out the back playing fetch with Lils and Artemis.”

 

            “I was, but then grandma Eliza made Lily come inside so she could take a look at her face properly, and then the dog went off with grandma Lillian, and it’s freezing outside,” Daisy grumbled.

 

            “How about you go and see if either of your grandmas need help with anything while I talk to your mom. Or finish your homework or something,” Kara suggested, handing one of the cups over to Lena. With a sigh, Daisy climbed to her feet, and Lena and Kara both smiled as they watched her leave, the door clicking shut behind her, and her heavy footfalls on the stairs as she stomped downstairs.

 

            Kara sat down where her daughter had just been sitting, her hands wrapped around her cup, just like Lena was doing with hers. “What were you two talking about?”

 

            “Nothing,” Lena murmured, “she just wanted to know if my mom would be okay.”

 

            “What’d you tell her?”

 

            Shrugging, Lena gently blew on the top of her tea, trying to cool it down so she could take a sip, “that she might die.”

 

            “Lena!”

 

            “Well she might!” Lena snapped, huffing as she set her tea down on the nightstand and turned to scowl at Kara, “what would you prefer me to do? Lie to them and tell them it’s all going to be peachy, and then they’re going to be blindsided if she dies, like I was with you? You’re the love of my life, Kara, and that was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and they’re too young to know that some deaths hurt more than others, and they don’t have a fiancé, so this will be as bad for them as losing you was for me. I had no warning, I had no time to prepare myself, and I don’t want them to be the same way if things don’t go the way we want them to.”

 

            Kara leant past Lena and set her own tea down, before reaching out to cup Lena’s face in her hands, “this isn’t like us, love. They don’t need to worry about that yet.”

 

            Wrenching her face out of Kara’s hands, Lena huffed slightly, “you’re right – this isn’t like us. I can prepare myself this time, and I don’t have to sit at home waiting for you to come back because you pissed off to the middle of the desert and I didn’t know when you’d be home or if you were even safe.”

 

            Flinching slightly, Kara cleared her throat, “okay, well, I know this is different, and you knew what you were getting into when we first met, so I don’t think it’s fair to compare them. I know you’re upset right now, but try not to push me away too much, or I may as well be back over there. I don't think I could stand it if you shut me out.”

 

            Lena just scoffed as she shifted slightly, pulling back the covers and sliding beneath them. She faced away from Kara, blinking back tears as she looked out at the grey sky through the open curtains. She didn’t mean to snap, or blame Kara for any of this, but things weren’t fair, and she was the only one caught in the middle of everyone else’s drama – somehow, she was the only one doing okay for herself, but she was stuck with everyone else’s problems, and she didn’t know how to cope. The bed shifted as Kara climbed to her feet with a weary sigh, picking up her cup of tea and looking down at Lena, who still had her back to her. Her eyes fluttered closed at the gentle press of warm lips against her cheek, and Lena let out a shaky breath, listening as the door quietly opened and closed. She was alone, but she didn’t want to be alone, but more than anything, she did want to be alone, and Lena didn’t have the answer to what she wanted. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to black it all out, and soon enough, the sweet relief of sleep came and swept her away.

Chapter Text

            It was four days later, and one day before Lillian’s scheduled surgery, and Lena found herself alone in a bar she’d passed on her way home from work, having quickly pulled over and decided to have a drink. It wasn’t a particularly nice bar, being on the outer limits of the city, but it was serving its purpose, and Lena had been there for a few hours, steadily drinking herself into a tipsy buzz with glass after glass of scotch. They’d come home Sunday night, and life had carried on, with the girls back in school, and Lena and Kara back in work too. That in itself had caused problems, because Kara had tried to get Lena to take the week off and help Lillian organise everything, but Lena couldn’t stand the thought of it. At least at work she could keep her mind occupied and try and keep a sense of normalcy, even if she left early in the morning, and didn’t come home until late – something she hadn’t done since she’d been stabbed all those years ago. She’d barely seen Kara or the girls in days, and had been avoiding her mom, Alex and Maggie too, because she had prided herself on being strong and and organised, but everything was falling to pieces, and she didn’t want any witnesses. Every night, she came home and ate whatever Kara had plated up for her and left in the kitchen, then she’d sit in the living room, giving curt answers to any questions or comments thrown her way, and then she’d tell Kara she’d be up to bed soon, before falling asleep on the sofa. No one was fooled by her act.

 

            She jumped at the sound of a stool being dragged out, snapping her out of her thoughts, and Lena turned to scowl at the person, a cigarette that she’d coerced off another man, who had since left, dangling from her lips – the whole bar was practically empty, why did they have to sit right next to her? – and her scowl deepened when she saw who it was. “I didn’t think this was your scene anymore,” Maggie said, hoisting herself up onto the stool and reaching out for Lena’s glass, “what’re you drinking? Oh god, this scotch is fucking awful. This definitely isn’t your scene.”

 

            “Oh look, my favourite asshole. What do you want?” Lena grumbled, white smoke curling out of her mouth as she spoke, before she snatched back her glass and drained it. Maggie wasn’t wrong – it wasn’t exactly the top shelf kind of scotch that Lena was used to.

 

            “Kara’s worried,” Maggie sighed, plucking the cigarette out of Lena’s fingers and outing it in an ashtray, “she told Alex you haven’t been coming home so I went to the office to drag you home.”

 

            “I have been going home,” Lena murmured, “just … later than normal. I’m busy.”

 

            Maggie let out a snort of laughter, “cut the bullshit, no one’s expecting you to be okay. I thought you were over your running away from your problems phase though. Do you know how hard it was to find you?”

 

            “How did you find me?”

 

            “I put an alert out on your plates. Said it was a stolen car,” Maggie shrugged, “now, come on. Time to go home.”

 

            Lena scoffed, “go on then, no one’s stopping you. I, however, am having another drink.” She slid her empty glass towards the bartender, rapping her knuckles on the old wooden bar, scarred and worn from years of use. Maggie gave him a stern look which left no room for misunderstanding – Lena was cut off for the night.

 

            Maggie let out a quick laugh, climbing down off her stool, “no you’re not. I’m cutting you off, and driving you home. If you argue with me, I’ll arrest you and put you in a cell – it’s not like that’s never happened before.”

 

            “Fuck off, Maggie, I’m not in the mood for your smug attitude and cop bullshit,” Lena snapped, “I don’t need your help.”

 

            “Yeah, well I don’t give a shit, now move your ass,” Maggie ordered her, poking her in the arm while Lena scowled. “If you try and drive home, I will personally pull you over for driving under the influence, and I mean it, Lena. Stop being so stubborn, and let me give you a ride home. I’ve got my own family to go home to.”

 

            Muttering curses under her breath, Lena clumsily climbed off her stool, pulling out a handful of notes and setting them down on the counter to cover her tab, before Maggie grabbed her by the upper arm and patted down her pockets. Lena let out a dopey laugh, “I always knew you had a thing for my ass.”

 

            “Piss off,” Maggie huffed, fishing a pair of car keys out of one of Lena’s pockets, and shoving them in her own, “you’ll have to get your car tomorrow. I hope no one steals it; next time pick a classier place where you might not get jumped outside, because knowing your track record, I’m a bit concerned.”

 

            Lena let out a snort of laughter, “please, I’ve been the perfect wife and mother for nineteen years – no more fun fights for me.”

 

            Shaking her head, Maggie gave her a gentle push towards the door, sighing as she had to reach out and steady Lena when she stumbled slightly, and they both walked outside. Cool air washed over them both, chasing away the grimy smell of the dive bar, but the smell of cigarettes and cheap beer seemed to cling to Lena anyway. The neon sign above the door flickered as they past beneath it, and Lena shivered slightly, her breath visible before her face as she teetered slightly in her heels. Maggie’s car was parked right behind Lena’s, and she wearily resigned herself to the fact that Maggie was going to drive her home – not that she would’ve driven herself home, but she had been planning on getting a cab. Stumbling as she walked to the passenger door, Lena reached out to open it, tugging uselessly at the locked door. “Just hang on a second,” Maggie said, trying to fish her keys out of her pocket, “stop trying to open it, I’m trying to unlock it.”

 

            “Well it’s not opening,” Lena huffed, tugging at the handle again.

 

            “Because you keep trying to open it when I’m trying to unlock it!” Maggie exclaimed, “let go of the fucking handle, you idiot.”

 

            Huffing again, Lena stopped pulling and the car lights flashed as the door made an audible unlocking sound. Yanking the door open, Lena climbed inside and sank into the seat as all of her muscles relaxed, and she fumbled with the seatbelt, snapping at Maggie when she tried to help. Both of them buckled in, Maggie started the car and started heading out of the city, completing the drive that Lena hadn’t finished on her way home, while her passenger brooded in drunken silence beside her.

 

            “What, are you ignoring me now?” Maggie laughed after a few minutes, her eyes darting to Lena for a moment, “what are you, five?”

 

            “And a half,” Lena curtly replied.

 

            Maggie let out a small laugh, “god, Daisy is more mature than you. Actually, no, she gets this from you.”

 

            “Are you saying my kid’s a dick?”

 

            Shrugging vaguely, Maggie gave her a dimpled smile, “I mean, I don’t want to call a kid a dick, but she definitely has your attitude. Maybe a little more of Kara’s sweetness than has rubbed off on you, but she definitely has your stubbornness. I can’t talk though, Carter’s got a bit of an attitude herself lately. Let’s blame it on the Danvers’ DNA.”

 

            “Kara’s adopted, and so am I. I think it’s our personalities,” Lena murmured.

 

            “Hm, fair point,” Maggie hummed, “I guess we’re all just moody assholes in general then. At least you have a reason though; how’re you doing?”

 

            Lena abruptly burst into tears, and Maggie swerved slightly in surprise, cursing as she steadied the car and looked at Lena with wide eyes. They had never been ones to get overly emotional around each other – excluding a few extenuating circumstances, which technically this was – and it took them both by surprise. “Oh fuck. Stop! Stop crying, right now! I can’t comfort you and drive, and I’m not pulling over, because I’m not giving you a hug, so stop crying and start talking.”

 

            “You’re an asshole,” Lena sniffed, trying to hold back her sobs as she wiped at her eyes.

 

            “Yeah, well, what else is new?” Maggie muttered, “now, tell me what’s wrong. I mean, I know what’s wrong, but just … talk.”

 

            “Talk? How the fuck is talking going to help?” Lena hysterically exclaimed, “I’ve been trying to get Kara to talk to me for weeks, but no, it’s fine for her to not talk about her feelings, and then as soon as my life goes to shit all she wants to do is talk. I don’t want to talk – talking isn’t going to make my mom not have cancer, and it’s not going to help her not need surgery tomorrow. Am I supposed to talk about how she might die? Oh and what else is wrong? My kids are possibly the worst behaved kids at their school, which is surprising considering your kid is going there, and you gave her a knife on her first day of kindergarten so we all knew she was going to be a maniac. And Kara’s just, ugh! She’s fine of course, she’s always fine – everything’s always fine – even if I can see it in her eyes that she’s not sleeping properly. Not that she tells me she’s having nightmares, no, that’s just another thing that gets swept aside so she can avoid the fact that everything’s just shit!”

 

            “Wait, what? What’s wrong with Kara?” Maggie asked, her brow furrowed in concern as she listened to Lena’s drunken rambling.

 

            Letting out a sharp laugh, which got caught on a sob, Lena gave Maggie a wry smile, “nothing. Everything’s fine.”

 

            “Lena,” Maggie said in a warning voice, “I swear, if something serious is going on and you’re both hiding it, I’m going to kick both of your asses. Alex hasn’t told me anything, so I’m assuming that she doesn’t know either.”

 

            “She’s- she’s spiralling again,” Lena said, swallowing the lump in her throat, “she won’t admit it but it’s- she’s the worst she’s been since. Nightmares, distractedness, she flinches at every loud noise, she doesn’t want to do anything, and god, she’s barely kissed me in weeks.”

 

            “Why didn’t you tell us?!” Maggie exclaimed, “for fuck’s sake, no wonder you were going on a bender. You should’ve told one of us sooner! It’s not healthy for you to bottle all this up – especially not with the girls. Have you tried getting her to see someone again?”

 

            Lena blew all of the air out of her lungs as she wiped at her face, “yeah, but she doesn’t want to. She’s happy to ignore it all. I don’t want to- to push her.”

 

            “Oh god, this again,” Maggie muttered, and at the questioning look off Lena, Maggie gave her a small smile, “just think carefully about what happened when you were too scared to tell Kara to re-enlist because you thought it was her decision. Think about what you want too.” Maggie slowed as she spoke, and Lena realised that they were outside the gates to her estate, and she sighed, resting her head against the window as she looked out at headlights sweeping across the icy landscape spread out before them. She couldn’t think of a good enough reply to what Maggie had said, so she watched the barren trees flash past and took in the comforting yellow glow of lights coming from the mansion. Kara would definitely be awake and waiting for her – it was almost midnight and she knew her wife would be worried sick – and Lena let out a quiet sigh at the thought of the conversation she was about to be forced to have. Drinking and a bad night’s sleep wouldn’t be enough to get her out of this one.

 

            As soon as Maggie cut the engine, Lena unbuckled her seatbelt and fumbled for the door handle, clumsily pushing it open and climbing out. Maggie sighed as she helped her catch her balance in her heels, and then marched her up the front steps and opened the door with a quiet creak. Lena leant against the wall, kicking both of her shoes off while she heard footsteps come out of the living room. “Where the hell have you been?” Kara quietly asked, her arms crossed over her chest, and a frown on her face.

 

            “Drinking,” Maggie sighed, tossing Kara a pair of car keys, which she nimbly caught.

 

            “Drinking?” Kara echoed in surprise, taking in the sight of her unsteady wife bending down to fuss over the Dalmatian puppy that excitedly danced around her feet. “Thanks for driving her home,” Kara said, her eyes shifting back to Maggie.

 

            “Yeah, well, maybe next time just talk like a normal couple so I don’t have spend my night driving around Downtown looking for your wife, who by the way, just told me that you’re not doing so great. Thanks for the heads up, it’s not like your sister or I would like to help or anything,” Maggie curtly replied, looking peeved as she crossed her arms over the front of her leather jacket.

 

            “I didn’t-“

 

            Maggie gave her a slight smile, “save it, Kara. I know you have your reasons, but it would be nice to know, for the girl’s sake if nothing else. Send them over if you two need a night to sort your shit out. Take it from me – watching your parents argue is never fun for a kid. Lena knows that too.”

 

            She walked to the door, calling goodnight over her shoulder, before shutting it, leaving Lena facing a wary looking Kara. “I think I’ll go and put my pyjamas on,” Lena muttered, reaching around for the zipper on the back of her dress as she made for the stairs.

 

            “Lena, wait,” Kara quietly called after her, “can we at least talk?”

 

            “Yeah, once I’m out of this shitty dress,” Lena said over her shoulder, carrying on upstairs to their bedroom, while Kara trailed after her. She silently let her dress pool to the floor as soon as she walked inside, and crossed the room, rummaging around in a drawer for some pyjamas and quickly slipping them on, struggling to get her arms and head through the right holes.

 

            “Are you going to say something?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            “What would you like me to say?” Lena replied, avoiding looking at her wife as she walked into the en-suite bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush.

 

            Kara followed her in, watching Lena vigorously brush her teeth in the mirror, “anything. I just want you to talk to me.”

 

            Rinsing her mouth out, Lena let out a quiet laugh, reaching for some face wipes and taking off the day’s makeup, before splashing water onto her face and meeting Kara’s stare in the mirror. “That’s rich.”

 

            “What’s that supposed to mean?” Kara asked, frowning slightly as she crossed her arms over her chest, leaning against the doorframe as she carefully watched Lena’s face with searching eyes.

 

            “It means that I’ve been trying to get you to talk to me for weeks, and now you just expect me to open up because I’ve stayed late at work for a few nights because I’ve been busy.”

 

            “Lena, your mom is having surgery tomorrow to remove a tumour,” Kara gently said, “it’s okay for you to be upset.”

 

            Lena pressed her lips together in a thin line, “I’m not upset.”

 

            Sighing, Kara ran a hand over her weary face, “Lena, it’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. Let me help you - I’m here.”

 

            “Well where the fuck have you been for the past few weeks?”

 

            Kara froze for a moment, “what do you mean where have I been? Where have you been? You’ve been sleeping on the sofa for days, the kids have barely seen you, you won’t pick up the phone at work. This is probably the longest conversation we’ve had since Friday.”

 

            “Because I’m trying to keep it together! I’m trying so hard, because one of us has to, and it isn’t you,” Lena snapped, walking towards the door and brushing past Kara. A gentle touch on her shoulder stopped her in her tracks, and Lena closed her eyes, slowly exhaling. “I understand that there’s things you don’t want to talk about, but you’re shutting me out and it’s not fair for you to criticize me for doing the same.”

 

            “Lena, I’m not criticizing you,” Kara quietly said, her hand still resting on Lena’s shoulder as she rubbed soothing circles on her, “I’m trying to help you.”

 

            Scoffing slightly, Lena shrugged Kara’s hand off and walked over to their bed, pulling back the covers and climbing into bed. Sighing, Kara flipped the lights off, and a moment later the mattress sank as she climbed into bed beside Lena. It was a big bed – big enough for the two of them to lay on either side and still have enough room to reach out and not touch. It felt like there was miles between them as they both lay on their own sides, and Lena ached to reach out for Kara, but she was too proud to make the first move, and she knew that Kara was upset too, and would most likely be too stubborn to forgive Lena for her drunken words – at least not tonight. She wouldn’t apologise for her feelings though, because her hurt was justified, and Lena didn’t want to let it go without resolving it, especially not when so much was going on right now. If she didn’t confront it, she was going to snap, but it was too late for them to talk rationally right now, and Lena’s thoughts were clouded by the scotch she’d been drinking. Perhaps Kara knew that though – knew all of the hidden thoughts swirling around in Lena’s mind, that she hadn’t spoke aloud – because after a few minutes she shifted across the bed, instinctively drawn towards Lena. As soon as her arm found its way across Lena’s waist, they both seemed to relax as some of the tension bled out of them, and Lena felt the brush of what she assumed was Kara’s lips against the shoulder of her shirt. There was something so healing about the simple act of them both laying side by side, and Kara’s touch was always comforting. Letting out a shaky breath, Lena sighed slightly and closed her eyes, “I’m trying to help you too.”

 

---

 

            Lena’s mood had barely improved the next morning, after a sleepless night of worrying about her mom’s surgery and Kara, on top of a banging headache from too much scotch, and she wasn’t in the mood to talk at breakfast. Looking more dishevelled than usual, she drank some overly green juice that she knew was good for her, which was why she drank it, but wasn’t exactly agreeing with her stomach that morning. “Here, you need to eat,” Kara murmured, setting down an omelette in front of Lena, along with a glass of water and some aspirin.

 

            She took the aspirin and drained the water, but the omelette sat untouched on its plate, “I’m not hungry.”

 

            “Well you need your energy. Waiting around at the hospital all day isn’t going to be fun on an empty stomach, and the food their sucks,” Kara told her, cracking a few eggs into the pan for her own breakfast.

 

            “I’m going to work,” Lena muttered.

 

            “What?”

 

            “I said I’m going to work,” Lena said, her voice rising slightly as she avoided Kara’s gaze, “you’ll have to drop the kids off to school.”

 

            Kara let out a huff of frustration, rounding the kitchen counter and planting herself in Lena’s line of sight. “You are not going to work today, don’t be ridiculous. No, I don’t want to hear it, Lena. Your mom is having surgery, and you’re going to be there for her, because you love her and we’re the only family she has. It’s going to happen whether you’re there or not, and we both know you want-“

 

            “Don’t tell me what I want,” Lena snapped, “you don’t know what I want.”

 

            “Well then tell me,” Kara sighed, pulling out a chair and collapsing into it, “tell me what you want.”

 

            “It doesn’t matter what I want,” Lena quietly said, picking up a fork and stabbing at the omelette with disdain. Kara just stared at her for a few moments, before she remembered the eggs and climbed to her feet with a weary sigh, leaving Lena to moodily pick at her breakfast.

 

            A few moments later, Daisy sauntered into the kitchen, dark hair a mess and her shirt – which Lena knew for a fact that Kara had ironed – rumpled. “You guys finished arguing?”

 

            “Not today, Dais,” Kara told her, her voice a low warning, “get your stuff ready, we have to leave early today so we can drop you off on the way to picking up grandma.”

 

            “Why do we have to go to school?” Daisy grumbled, “she’s my grandma – I should be allowed to go to the hospital too.”

 

            “You have to go to school because it’s the law,” Kara curtly replied, “do you want an apple or a banana in your lunch?”

 

            “But why do we have to leave early? Why can’t I just drive myself?” Daisy carried on complaining, reaching out for an apple in the fruit bowl and rolling it towards Kara. She watched as her mom wrapped the sandwiches she was finishing making, before scrambling her eggs a bit more, all the while grumbling some more about school.

 

            Eventually, Lena had had enough, climbing to her feet and storming out of the kitchen. Walking over to the table near the front door, she rummaged around in one of the drawers and pulled out a pair of keys, before walking back into the kitchen and slamming them down on the counter. “Drive yourself. Do whatever you want, just no more complaining today.”

 

            Daisy blinked in surprise, reaching out for the keys and hesitantly picking them up, before she looked up at Lena with wide eyes. “Really?”

 

            “No!” Kara exclaimed from the kitchen, “you are not driving to school. Lena-“

 

            “She has her license, Kara. Just let her drive – it’ll save us time in the mornings anyway,” Lena shrugged, sitting back down and picking up her juice, eyeing her daughter over the rim of the glass. “If you so much as get a ticket, you’re never driving one of my cars again.”

 

            Smiling brightly, Daisy hopped down off the stool and ran over to Lena, dropping a kiss on her mom’s cheek and wrapping her arms around her neck. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ll be good, I promise, and I’ll follow all the laws, and I won’t speed.”

 

            “Aunt Maggie will kill you if you do, but not as much as I will,” Kara said, a disapproving look on her face as she finished making her own breakfast and packing the two girl’s lunches, but she didn't protest. “Go and wake your sister up – you have to drive her to school too.”

 

            Letting out a groan, Daisy grimaced and walked out of the kitchen, her posture more erect than usual as she excitedly jingled her new car keys in her hand. As Kara walked over to the table with her breakfast, Lena stood up with her half-empty plate, pausing to drain the rest of her juice and grimace at the taste. “Don’t you think we should’ve spoken about her driving to school before handing her the keys to your Porsche?” Kara tensely asked, frowning slightly up at Lena.

 

            Ducking down to kiss her wife on the cheek, Lena picked up her glass and carried her dishes over to the sink, dumping them in there and leaving them for later. “Just because everyone else is miserable, it doesn’t mean the kids need to be too,” Lena snarkily replied as she stalked out of the kitchen to get dressed.

 

            Kara joined her a few minutes later, dressing in silence and leaving Lena to her thoughts, until it was time for them to go. Giving both girls a slightly longer hug than usual, and kissing them both on the cheek, Lena slipped her coat on and listening to Kara give Daisy a stern warning about driving responsibly with her sister in the car, before they both stepped outside. Kara was driving, so Lena climbed into the passenger seat, her hands balled into fists in her lap as she stared out at the fine layer of snow that blanketed everything, taking in the white sky that spoke of more of it. Christmas had become one of her favourite times of the year, what with having kids and getting to see their faces light up as they opened their presents, and finally having the family she’d always dreamt of, but with it just a couple of weeks off, Lena couldn’t bring herself to find any excitement about the approaching holidays. All she would be able to think about was if it was going to be her mom’s last one, or if it would be the last one with Daisy, if she stubbornly insisted on enlisting and Lena couldn’t stop her. There were too many things going on in her life to help her even forget for a moment, and just enjoy the family time that the holidays usually brought around.

 

            She was distracted the entire ride to her mom’s brownstone, and she didn’t even get out of the car when Kara parked outside and turned the engine off, she just climbed into the back of the car, making way for Lillian to sit in the front. It wasn’t long before the passenger door was opened and Lillian was helped in by Kara, before the back door was opened and a duffel bag was placed on the seat. Lena briefly looked up to catch Kara’s eye and the slight smile as she smiled back. Weakly returning it, Lena quickly looked away and the door was slammed shut, and Kara was soon pulling out into traffic.

 

            “Ignoring everyone, are you?” Lillian asked after a few moments of silence. Glaring at her mom’s eyes in the rear-view mirror, Lena sank low in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest, while Lillian quietly laughed. “You look like Lily when you do that – except your eyes, of course. Now, what’re you so miserable about?”

 

            “Take a wild guess,” Lena snapped.

 

            “I told you, you don’t have to worry,” Lillian sighed, turning in her seat to look Lena in the face, “it’s more of an inconvenience, really. I haven’t been able to eat or drink anything since yesterday afternoon.”

 

            Lena let out a snort of laughter, “only you would call breast cancer and inconvenience.”

 

            “Well, it’s not exactly convenient, is it?” Lillian muttered, as brusque and professional as ever, “now, I’ve left everything with my lawyers. They won’t call unless they need to, of course, but they have everything sorted out. I’ve left plans for it all, so you won’t have to worry. Do you hear me, Lena?”

 

            “I hear you,” she quietly replied, silently praying that everything with the surgery went well so that she wouldn’t have to have this conversation with lawyers, perhaps until the chemotherapy failed, which she was also silently praying for to go well.

 

            “My assistant has the schedule for the company for the rest of the week, Kara. There’s that follow up meeting with Jack Spheer – he’s a lovely man, you should’ve kept in touch with him, Lena. You could use more friends close by so you can get out and socialise more,” Lillian prattled on.

 

            Scoffing, Lena rolled her eyes, “why have more friends when Kara and I have such riveting conversations.”

 

            Kara made a small sound of indignation, but remained silent, and Lillian sighed at Lena’s moodiness. “I take it that you’ve been in a terrible mood since Friday? Not that I expected anything less – you’ve always been a bit withdrawn, and you really aught to not take it personally, Kara,” Lillian said, reaching out to gently touch her daughter-in-law on the arm, “you should just be glad she hasn’t run away yet. When we found out Lionel was sick, she disappeared for three days, and we had no idea where she was. It turns out she was living in the loft of the stables.”

 

            “I was only gone for three days because it took you that long to notice I was gone,” Lena mumbled.

 

            “Yes, we’ve established that I wasn’t very attentive,” Lillian curtly replied, “but the fact that you’re still here is a nice surprise. I was half expecting you to go to work today instead. I know how much you hate hospitals.” There was a pause for a few moments, and Lillian let out a quiet laugh as she looked at Kara. “She tried to go to work today, didn’t she?”

 

            Gently clearing her throat, Kara’s eyes flickered up to the rear-view mirror, meeting Lena’s scowl, before she turned to Lillian. “Yes.”

 

            “Ah,” Lillian murmured, “well, thank you for coming anyway, dear.”

 

            The rest of the car ride was filled with unnecessary small talk, in Lena’s opinion, but something that Kara and Lillian were happy to indulge themselves in as they made their way towards the hospital. Aside from Lillian’s few comments about the lawyers, it was almost like they were all pretending that Lillian wasn’t going in for surgery, which was always risky in the first place, but even more so with Lillian’s age and the fact that the tumours were malignant. They had to get all of it, or even with the radiation and chemotherapy, Lillian wouldn’t be able to fight it. Sitting in the back of the car in silence, Lena felt like she was on the verge of tears as she fiddled with the rings on her wedding finger, trying to swallow the lump in her throat in vain.

 

---

 

            “Here,” a voice to her left said, and Lena jumped slightly, blinking as she looked up at Alex, and then down at the paper cup being held out to her.

 

            “Oh, thanks,” Lena muttered, taking the cup and running a hand over her tired face. Lillian had been in surgery for hours now, but it felt even longer than that, and Lena had started losing track of time. “What’re you doing here?”

 

            The cheap leather of the chair creaked as Alex sat down next to Lena, her elbows on her thighs as she leant forward slightly, her own cup of coffee held between both of her hands. “I’ve clocked off for the day. Didn’t want you to be alone.”

 

            “I’m not alone; Kara’s here,” Lena murmured, casting her eyes down the hallway where she’d watched Kara walk down to go and get food. “Have you seen her?”

 

            “Mhm, I passed her on my way in. She was going to the cafeteria, but I warned her off it, so she’s gone to get some real food for you,” Alex explained, “gotta keep your strength up and all of that.”

 

            Nodding, Lena took a sip of the coffee, rolling the bitter taste of it around her mouth as she thought deeply about her mom. Her worry was written in the lines of her face, and Alex reached out to give Lena’s shoulder a quick squeeze, “hey don’t worry, your mom’s too much of a badass to not get through this. You think the Lillian Luthor would be brought down by surgery? Over her dead bo- ah, that might not be the best phrase to use, but you get the meaning. She’s going to be fine.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Lena leant back in her chair and sighed, before her lips curled up into a small smile, “I know. I told her I’d hate her for making me love her if she didn’t come out and criticise my life choices before meeting Kara. My mom’s never been one to not criticise someone, so I think that was enough motivation for her.”

 

            Alex let out a quiet laugh as she shook her head, taking a sip of her own coffee. She jerked her head up a moment later, and Lena followed her stare, watching as Kara walked down the hallway, dodging nurses and doctors as she made her way back to the waiting area, dropping a kiss onto the top of Lena’s head, before sitting down on the other side of her. “There was a sushi stand in the lobby,” Kara said, placing a plastic container in her lap.

 

            Lena looked up and gave her a small smile, taking in the pale and drawn face, and the dark circles under Kara’s eyes. The fluorescent lights seemed to wash all of the colour out of Kara’s face, and Lena knew she would look just as bad if she had a mirror to look into. Turning her attention to the sushi in her lap, Lena pried open the container, picking up a piece and taking a small bite, even though she wasn’t hungry. It was surprisingly good, and she handed the container out to Alex, who took a piece shrugged as she popped the whole thing in her mouth. “Thank you,” Lena softly sighed, tilting her head to the side and resting it on Kara’s shoulder.

 

            They didn’t talk much, and no one disturbed them, except Maggie, who called around dinner time to let them know that she’d picked Eliza up from the airport, and they were ordering in pizza to help take the kid’s minds off of Lillian’s surgery. Alex stayed for a little over an hour, keeping them both company for a while, before she went home with the assurances that she’d make sure the girls were okay. After that, Lena sat stiffly in her seat, waiting for the doctor to come out and tell her how everything had gone, while Kara slipped into a light doze, her head resting on Lena’s shoulder as they sat side by side.

 

            It was a few more hours before the surgery was over, and Lena was wide awake the second that the surgeon walked out, still wearing her scrub cap as she strode towards Lena and a tired looking Kara, who was rubbing her eyes. A warm smile off the doctor made Lena let out a pent up breath, and she didn’t have to ask to know that everything had gone well.

 

            “The surgery went well,” the doctor informed them, “we got all of the tumour, and did a double mastectomy, like your mom asked for. She’s going to be fine – Lillian’s always been too stubborn for her own good.”

 

            Lena let out a weak laugh, running a hand through her messy hair, “can I see her?”

Chapter Text

            Four days after Lillian’s surgery, Lena was in her office, taking a much needed break from hospital visits. Kara had gone to pick the girls up, having spent the past few days at Alex and Maggie’s place, and Lena was checking up on the situation at L-Corp. She was reading over a stack of paperwork that was mercifully small, thanks to Sam taking over in her stead to keep things running smoothly, and Lena quickly flipped through the pages, before adding it to the pile she’d already read. A quiet rap on the door caught her attention, and Lena looked up, her hand reaching out for the next file.

 

            “Come in.”

 

            The door opened, and Sam poked her head in, giving Lena a warm smile. “Hi, boss. They told me you’d snuck in.”

 

            “Sam,” Lena greeted her with a tired smile, “hey, how are you?”

 

            “How am I? How are you? How’s your mom?” Sam asked, a concerned look on her face as she crossed the office and sat down across from Lena.

 

            Letting out a sharp laugh, Lena spun around in her chair, blowing all the air out of her lungs, before giving Sam a wry smile. “It’s all ... it’s being handled. Thanks for the flowers, by the way. My mom appreciated them.”

 

            Sam nodded, “I was glad to hear the surgery went well. How’re Kara and the girls? I know it’s all been happening so fast.”

 

            “They’re ... doing better than I am,” Lena admitted, drumming her fingers on the arms of her chair, “my mom should be out tomorrow. Her surgeon’s just being overly cautious because they’re old coworkers.”

 

            “Better to be safe than sorry,” Sam agreed, “you should head home - you look awful, if you don’t mind me saying. You should take the week off; I can handle it all here, and you look like you could use a good night’s sleep.”

 

            The barest hint of a smile played on Lena’s lips and she nodded, glancing down at the watch on her wrist and noting the time. “Mm, I might make it home in time for dinner if I leave now.”

 

            “Go home to your wife,” Sam said, stealing the pile of paperwork off the desk as she climbed to her feet, “the holidays are right around the corner - put a tree up. Make gingerbread cookies. Do something normal.”

 

            “Right,” Lena murmured, running a hand over her tired face, “normal. That’s a thing that people have.”

 

            “Goodnight, Lena,” Sam pointedly said, giving her a smile over her shoulder as she walked towards the door.

 

            Giving her friend a small smile, Lena leant back in her chair, watching Sam leave, “thanks, Sam.”

 

            “Don’t mention it- oh, Alana,” Sam said, almost bumping into Lena’s assistant as she opened the door and found her standing there, fist poised to knock on the wood. “Better make it quick, I’ve told her she has to leave.”

 

            With a quick laugh, Alana wished Sam a goodnight and walked into Lena’s office, a bright smile on her face as she walked towards her boss. Wondering what business needed her attention right now, Lena straightened up in her seat, giving her assistant a tight smile. “Alana.”

 

            “It’s good to see you, ma’am,” Alana replied, giving her a coy smile, “I didn’t expect you back so soon.” Making a non-committal sound, Lena starting shuffling some papers together on her desk, reaching down for her briefcase to put them inside. Warm fingers wrapped around her wrist, stopping her, and Lena jumped slightly in surprise, quickly glancing up at her assistant. “Let me get that for you.”

 

            Feeling her heart skip a beat at the shock of the touch, Lena let Alana pluck the files out of her hand, watching the smile playing on her assistant’s lips. The files were set down on her desk, and Alana reached out to fix Lena’s collar, her fingers slowly sliding along the fabric as she looked at Lena with hungry eyes. “You know, Miss Luthor, I could help you out if you’d like. I know things have been tense ... maybe I could help you work some of it out.”

 

            Lena let out a quiet laugh, looking down at the hand still resting against her shoulder, fingers slightly splayed near the collar of her shirt. She reached out and slowly wrapped her hand around the young girl’s wrist, and then abruptly stood up, sending her desk chair rolling backwards at the sudden movement. Their faces were inches apart, and Lena could see the expectant look on her assistant’s face, and her face hardened as she reached past her and pressed a button on the phone on her desk. Leaning in, Lena’s lips hovered inches from her ear, “it’s Mrs Danvers-Luthor.” Her voice was cold and her anger was written in the sharp lines of her face as she pried the young girl’s fingers off her shirt, the office door opening as she did so. “Clean out your desk. Security, please escort her off the premises.”

 

            At the sting of rejection, Alana let out a cold laugh, brushing past Lena and stalking towards the door. “Whatever. You’re nothing but a-“

 

            “Think very carefully about your next words, Miss Hamidi,” Lena coolly cut her off, sitting down in her chair and rolling it forward towards her desk, coldly appraising the girl as she turned to look at her, “or I’ll personally make sure you never get another job in this city again.”

 

            A look of frustration crossed the young girl’s face as she shot Lena a venomous glare, but she bit back whatever she’d been about to say, and quietly walked out of the office, escorted by the security guard. Exhaling forcefully, Lena ran a hand through her hair, closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair as she inhaled slowly. After a few moments, she rolled her chair back, grabbed the pile of files on the desk and shoved them in her briefcase. Climbing to her feet, she crossed over to the door and left.

 

---

 

            “Mom! You’re home early,” Lily said when Lena appeared in the doorway, hopping off the last step and coming over to give her mom a hug.

 

            “Mhm,” Lena replied, smoothing her daughter’s hair back and kissing her on the cheek, “and ... I brought Chinese food.” She raised the plastic bag and gave Lily a smile as she reached out to take the food off her.

 

            Smiling brightly, Lily hugged the food to her chest, “thank you! I think mom was making some weird healthy thing that you like.”

 

            Lena let out a quiet laugh, giving her a gentle push towards the kitchen, before setting the bouquet of flowers she held down on the counter. Kicking off her heels, she placed her coat on the hook and scooped up the bouquet, heading towards the kitchen, passing the living room, where the sound of a piano alerted her to her other daughter’s whereabouts. When she walked in, Kara was standing beside Lily, unpacking the white cartons, and she looked up as Lena walked in, giving her a warm smile. “I thought you’d be at the hospital later than this. We could’ve just left at the same time.”

 

            Crossing the kitchen, Lena pulled Kara towards her and gave her a hard kiss that took them both by surprise. Pulling back, Lena raised the flowers and gave Kara a crooked smile, “I stopped by the office for a few minutes to check on things before everyone went home.”

 

            “Thank you, they’re beautiful. The office? Really?” Kara sighed, taking the flowers and smelling a lily as she carried them over to the sink and rummaged around for a vase. “How is everything? Has Sam got everything under control?”

 

            Lena swallowed the lump in her throat, her mouth feeling dry as she opened it to reply, “everything’s great.”

 

            “Good,” Kara smiled at her, before walking back over to the food, “I was making quinoa for you, but I, for one, am glad you saved me from it. Do you want to go and fetch the drama queen?”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena turned around and made for the living room, hovering in the doorway as she watched Daisy’s fingers fly across the ivory keys. A small smile played on Lena’s lips as she listened to the music, and she quietly padded across the room, stopping behind Daisy and dropping a kiss on the top of her head, while wrapping her arms around her neck. “Hi sweetie,” Lena said, while Daisy stumbled over the notes slightly, startled by Lena’s touch. Falling back into the music, Daisy carried on with the piece, and Lena stood with her arms wrapped around her, quietly listening to her play. She loved listening to her play, and she patiently waited until Daisy played the last note, before giving her a gentle squeeze. “Dinner’s ready.”

 

            Walking back towards the kitchen, they both sat down at the table, where Kara and Lily were already heaping food onto their plates. The girls had spent the past few days at Alex and Maggie’s, and this was the first time all four of them had had dinner alone together in over a week. As they sat around the table, Lena felt herself relax slightly, watching the way that Kara slid the sweet and sour pork over to Daisy, because it was her favourite, and the way that Lily excitedly told them all about the field trip to the observatory that was announced at school. There was something so soothing about the familiar routine of them all eating dinner together, and Lena felt a rush of love for her family, and it was so intense that she thought she might start crying. Instead, she just ate her food, trying to fill the silence with as much conversation as possible, as if she was trying to make up for her absence and silence over the past week.

 

            “You had a Spanish quiz today, right?” she asked Daisy, “how’d it go, love?”

 

            “Bueno,” Daisy replied, rolling her eyes slightly, “Aunt Maggie helped me study.”

 

            “I might have to take you to Cabo in the summer so you can show us how it’s done,” Lena smiled, “and no more detentions? For either of you?”

 

            Both girls shook their heads and Kara quietly laughed, giving them all an exasperated look. Dinner progressed in a similar manner, and Lena tried her hardest to be overly warm and loving, needing it more than they might’ve. Afterwards, they all went into the living room, and they watched some nature documentary - Lily curled up beside Lena, with her head in her lap, while Kara stretched out on the other sofa, and Daisy lay on the floor with book in hand.

 

---

 

            It was late when they both went upstairs, and as soon as the bedroom door shut behind Kara, she reached out to gently touch Len on the shoulder. “Are you going to tell me what happened?”

 

            Looking up at her in surprise, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat, “what?”

 

            “You’ve been as white as a ghost all night ... and chattier than you’ve been lately. What’s wrong?” She slowly ran her hand along Lena’s shoulder, frowning slightly when Lena jerked away from her touch, feeling guilty.

 

            Walking over to the bed, Lena perched on the edge of it, running a hand through her hair and sighing heavily. “I fired my assistant today.”

 

            “Alana?” Kara asked, blinking in surprise, “I didn’t think you were actually going to do it. What’d she do this time? Double book another appointment?”

 

            Lena was silent for a few moments, unable to meet Kara’s concerned stare because she wouldn’t be able to tell her - she hadn’t done anything wrong, but that didn’t make her feel any less guilty for ending up in that situation. “She ...” Lena sighed, before a bitter smile crossed her lips, “she sensed a bit of tension. She had a few ideas of ways I could work it out … with her help.”

 

            The mattress shifted as Kara sank down onto the bed beside her. “Ah.”

 

            “Apparently even she can see how fucking miserable I’ve been lately,” Lena laughed as she blinked back tears.

 

            “Is it because of me?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            Shooting to her feet, Lena laughed again, walking towards the dresser and pulling open a drawer as she pulled out some pyjamas. “Am I miserable because of you? God no. You could never make me miserable, even if things haven’t been … the best.”

 

            She heard Kara climb to her feet and walk over to her, standing so close that Lena could almost feel her. “Did you- did you kiss her? I won’t be mad if you did. I-I know I’ve been distant lately; I know we haven’t ...”

 

            Lena’s shoulders dropped as she slowly exhaled, turning around to face Kara and gently taking her face in her hands as she quietly laughed, “no. God no. She laid one finger on me and I sacked her on the spot. I could never look twice at anyone else.”

 

            Kara leant in and gently kissed Lena, their lips barely brushing, and then she took the pyjamas balled up in Lena’s hand and tossed them aside. Frozen in place, Lena closed her eyes as Kara leant in again, her lips brushing her ear, “good.”

 

            "What, th-that's it? You don't want to ask about anything else?" Lena breathlessly asked her.

 

            "No, I don't want to talk about her," Kara whispered. Lena’s eyes flew open as the front of her shirt was torn open, buttons clattering to the floor as Kara untucked it with warm, urgent hands. Then she was abruptly spun around and pushed up against the dresser, the shirt roughly being pulled off and warm lips pressing hot kisses to her shoulder. “No one touches you like I do.”

 

            Lena’s breathing hitched as Kara smoothed the fabric of her tight skirt, before tugging down the zipper, her other hand brushing Lena’s hair off the side of her neck so she could kiss it. Stepping out of the skirt as it pooled to the floor, Lena let her head roll to the side, letting out shaky breath, “the kids.”

 

            “We’ll be quiet,” Kara murmured against her neck, making Lena shiver slightly. Turning around in her arms, Lena pulled Kara close and captured her lips again, pushing up the bottom of her shirt and helping Kara out of the rest of her clothes. The dresser rattled slightly as Kara pressed Lena up against it, digging her fingers into the pale skin of her stomach and lightly running her thumb over the slightly raised scar on Lena’s stomach. When Kara easily lifted Lena off her feet and carried her over to the bed, she had to appreciate the fact that Kara was as strict about her fitness as she’d ever been, and that she carried her wife with ease and gently laid her down on the bed, before crawling on top of her.

 

            Kara’s hands were warm as they ran up Lena’s thighs and ribs, and her mouth was hot against her collarbone. Tangling her fingers in Kara’s blonde locks, Lena clutched at her back, squirming slightly beneath her wife. “Kara,” she breathlessly whispered. Her head came up and she pressed her lips back against Lena’s, quietly humming against them, and Lena let out a quiet laugh.

 

            They lay by side afterwards, wrapped up under the covers, feeling almost too hot, despite the wintery weather outside, and the only sound besides the howling wind was their unsteady breathing as they tried to slow it down. Lena had her head resting on Kara’s shoulder, her fingers trailing over her stomach, while Kara’s fingers made lazy circles up and down Lena’s spine. They were silent as they lay there, until Lena started crying, and Kara raised her head slightly, her lips brushing against Lena’s hair. “Are you okay?” she murmured, her voice full of worry.

 

            “I’ve missed you,” Lena tearfully replied, rolling over slightly so that she could bury her face in the crook between Kara’s neck and shoulder. She fell asleep to the gentle feeling of Kara stroking her hair and softly shushing her, and Lena slipped into unconsciousness with a gratitude, thinking that maybe things might be okay after all.

 

---

 

            Waking with a start from the abrupt loss of warmth, Lena rolled over to face Kara, who had been pressed up against Lena’s back until moments ago. She was frowning now, and restlessly tossing as her eyes darted side to side under closed eyelids. Another nightmare. Sitting up slightly, bringing the covers with her, Lena frowned as she reached out to gently touch Kara – one foot touching the cold wooden floor just in case she needed to quickly jump out of reach if Kara started thrashing about. “Kara,” Lena quietly said, shaking her a little rougher, “wake up, love. You’re home; you’re in bed. Kara!”

 

            At the last call of her name, Kara jerked awake, staring straight up at the ceiling, while Lena stared at her with concern, her hand hovering just above Kara’s arm, hesitant to touch her again until she got her bearings. It was a few moments until she blinked away the bad dream and shifted upright, turning towards Lena and smiling as she squinted blindly. “Hey,” she murmured, clumsily searching for the side of her face and stroking Lena’s cheek.

 

            Covering Kara’s hand with her own, Lena gave her a slight smile, “good morning. Are you okay?”

 

            “I was dreaming about explosions,” Kara murmured, settling back down against the pillows and pulling the sheets up with her. Lena blinked in surprise, caught off guard by Kara’s sudden willingness to share her dreams. She’d used to tell Lena about them all the time – the good ones and the bad – but lately, it had only been the good ones she’d talk about, and any of the bad ones were ignored, as if they didn’t happen. Settling down beside her, Lena wrapped her arm around Kara when she wormed her way into her embrace. “Not the- the one that I- … it was a different dream. Just … loud, and hot.”

 

            “Are they all …”

 

            “No,” Kara whispered, her eyelids fluttering closed as she breathed out slowly, “some of them are … sand. Lots of sand. I’m in the desert, and I’m so thirsty. In others, I see them all. Those are the worst. They're the same as they used to be - nothing new.”

 

            Lena held her tightly, her eyes squeezed shut as she turned and kissed Kara on the forehead, brushing her hair out of her face. “I’m sorry.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara tilted her head to look up at her, “you haven’t done anything wrong.”

 

            “Neither did you.”

 

            “Mm,” Kara hummed, “well, it was just a dream anyway. I think the stress is just making my brain drag up all my old nightmares. I’m sure it’ll all calm down soon.”

 

            “You could always-“

 

            “Talk to someone,” Kara finished for her, smiling as she gave Lena a quick kiss, “I know. I’ll do better.”

 

            Quietly scoffing, Lena sat upright, “you do whatever it is you need to do, and I’ll help you with whatever it is that you need.”

 

            Kara winced slightly, giving Lena a sheepish look as she reached up and pressed her fingers against the skin beneath Lena’s collarbone, “well, right now, I need you to not get mad at me, because you’re looking a little colourful this morning.”

 

            Drawing her chin down to her chest, Lena let out a loud groan, “Kara, are you serious? Fucking hell, how is it you haven’t managed to get better at not leaving marks.”

 

            Laughing, Kara covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she looked at Lena, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t laugh but … I mean, it's been a few weeks so that wasn't exactly my first concern. And at least you can cover it; remember that time I gave you one on your neck the day before you were going to meet Eliza for the first time?”

 

            Pursing her lips slightly, Lena kicked the blankets off and climbed out of bed, “how could I forget? Do you want to join me in the shower, or do you want to stay in bed for a little bit longer?”

 

            She took a few steps towards the bathroom, before she stopped at the sound of Kara calling her name. “Lena?” Looking over her shoulder, she raised her eyebrows slightly, turning when Kara scooted over to the edge of the bed, sitting upright and reaching out for her. “There’s something I wanted to talk to you about. I wasn’t sure how to bring it up – we’ve hardly spoken at all over the past week.”

 

            “You could’ve told me anything,” Lena softly told her, reaching out to tilt Kara’s head up with one finger beneath her chin. Leaning down slightly, Lena gave her a soft kiss, “I would’ve listened.”

 

            “I know,” Kara quietly assured her, tugging on her hand, “just … sit down a second.”

 

            Lena sat down beside her, a concerned look on her face as she stared at Kara, “what’s bothering you?”

 

            Smiling slightly, Kara tilted her head to the side, “it’s not bothering me … it’s just, I’m not sure what you’ll think of my idea. See, I was thinking about your mom. We’re going to go to the hospital and pick her up later, and then we’ll take her to her place, and you’ll stay with her tonight, and you won’t see the kids, because Daisy’s got I.T. club tonight, and Lily’s got track practice. And tomorrow … something along the same lines, right?”

 

            “I mean … she doesn’t have anyone else,” Lena slowly said, “I’m going to take time off work so I can manage her and still being home. I won’t be gone. I’ll find someone to look after her soon, so they can settle in before she starts her treatment.”

 

            “But doesn’t she deserve better than that, Lena? You’re right – she doesn’t have anyone else. We’re her family – and my family is her family too, I guess. Why don’t we just bring her home,” Kara said, giving her a small smile, “we can look after her better here. I don’t like the thought of her in that big house, all alone.”

 

            Lena’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, “you want my mom to come and live with us?”

 

            “I know you haven’t lived with her since you were a teenager, and I know that wasn’t fun for you, but think about how different it will be,” Kara reasoned with her.

 

            “Kara, we’re talking about months,” Lena said, arching an eyebrow slightly.

 

            Reaching out to smooth away the wrinkles on Lena’s forehead, Kara smiled, “I know, but I think she’s going to need you more than ever.”

 

            “I know,” Lena sighed, frowning as she looked down at her hands in her lap. “I’m scared.”

 

            “I know, and that’s okay. We’ll look after her here though,” Kara said.

 

            “Are you sure you want that? I mean, I love her, but I don’t want her to get in the way of our family. I can pay for the best care that money can buy.”

 

            Kara climbed to her feet, smiling as Lena wrapped her arms around her waist and gazed up at her. “I’m sure. Money can’t pay for the love that we can give her – no matter how good they are at caring. Now, about that shower …” Lena smiled, reaching forward to kiss the old puckered scar on Kara’s stomach, before climbing to her feet and kissing her.

 

---

 

            “Girls, can you come here a second?” Kara called out, pouring coffee into a mug and handing it to Lena, who was frying up bacon in the pan.

 

            Lily was finishing some last minute homework at the table, and looked up from her frantic scribbling to arch an eyebrow in a way that was exactly like Lena’s. “I’m right here, mom.”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her an exasperated look, “I know, just … come sit up here a second.”

 

            “So I don’t have to do my homework?”

 

            “That,” Lena said, giving her a stern look, “should’ve been done last night. I’ll help you with it afterwards.”

 

            Daisy walked in a moment later, holding a wriggling puppy in her arms and getting white fur all over the front of her sweater. “What’s going on?”

 

            “Uh, well, grandma’s going to be staying with us for a while,” Kara said, “so I’m going to need you to be on your best behaviour. Please. Try and keep the shouting and arguing to a minimum; she’s going to need her rest. Can you do that for me and your mom?”

 

            “Yeah, I guess,” Daisy shrugged, “how long is she going to be staying here?”

 

            Lena gave her a small smile, “until she’s better.”

 

            “She’ll be okay though, right?” Daisy asked, an uncertain look on her face as she recalled her conversation with Lena at Eliza’s house.

 

            “Duh. Mom said that grandma is going to be fine,” Lily said, rolling her eyes, “she’s just going to be tired for a bit, right mom?”

 

            Kara wrinkled her nose as she smiled at her, “yeah, she’s going to be fine. But you girls need to be good.”

 

            They both murmured in agreement, and Lena gave Kara a slight smile as she plated up the bacon and caught the toast just before it burnt. Things seemed better today. The four of them were back home at least, and they were both somewhat talking about things, and Lena felt some small relief at the fact and couldn’t help but feel a tiny spark of hope that it would only get better from here. It was going to be rough with Lillian, but if she could counter-balance with the rest of her life, then perhaps it would be more bearable, because if things kept piling up, Lena knew she would snap under the pressure of keeping everything together. A part of her was hoping that Christmas might help bring everything back down to normal, and some well needed family time would help her unwind a little.

 

---

 

            “I made up the bed in your room,” Kara told Lillian as she carried the duffel bag into the house, while Lena nervously hovered around her mom, in case she needed help getting up the front steps, despite her insistence that she didn’t.

 

            “Thank you,” Lillian said, giving her a warm smile as she stepped inside and started taking off her coat. Lena copied her, keeping a careful watch on her, as if she was expecting Lillian to keel over at any moment. Aside from looking tired and somewhat in pain, Lillian looked fine though. The only giveaway that she’d been in hospital was the way that her shirt was too baggy around the chest, the extra space unable to be filled by the bandages wrapped around her, and the band around her wrist. She was as brusque and curt as ever otherwise, which helped a little, because at least when they were all grumbling and bickering, it made things seem more normal. “Are the girls not home from school yet?”

 

            Lena shook her head, taking Lillian’s coat and hanging it up for her, “no, they’ve got I.T. and track practice today. It’ll be another hour or so. Do you want to go and have a quick nap?”

 

            Lillian scoffed, “if this is how you’re going to treat me now, then I’ll be surprised if I’m even allowed to step a foot out of bed when the chemo starts.”

 

            “Sorry, did you want me to take you home?” Lena snarkily replied.

 

            “No need to bite, I’m just not as fragile as you think,” Lillian sighed, reaching out to pat Lena on the cheek, “and yes, I think I might have a quick nap. I don’t want to be falling asleep when the girls get home.”

 

            “I’ll let you two get settled in,” Kara said, giving them both warm smiles, “let me know if you need a hand with anything.”

 

            Lena nodded, taking Lillian’s bag off Kara, and started herding her mom towards the stairs, while Lillian tutted and stalked off ahead of her, showcasing her ability to walk fine just by herself. She had been somewhat wary of the offer to come and stay with them that had been presented to her when Lena and Kara had arrived at the hospital, but she had seen the logic in it and had hesitantly agreed. Lena didn’t have to ask why – it was for the same reasons she’d been a bit wary when Kara had made the offer. Everything had been great for twenty years, but neither of them had lived together long-term since Lena had been a teenager, and only then it had been for the school holidays. Putting them both under the same roof, with the added trouble of two teenagers and Lillian’s cancer treatment, was either going to go surprisingly well, or be a complete nightmare, and knowing Lena’s luck, she was leaning towards the latter.

 

            Lillian’s old bedroom was exactly the same as it had been for Lena’s entire life – just without the added extras of her father’s things – and it always made her feel small whenever she went in there, much like a few of the other rooms in the house that she didn’t frequent too. Pushing aside a flood of memories, Lena walked inside and set the duffel bag down on the ottoman at the end of the bed, opening it up and pulling out some of the clothes that were packed. “I’ll get Kara to run over to yours tonight and pick you up some more clothes and stuff. Is there anything you need in particular?”

 

            “Mm, there should be more work stuff in my office. Kara will know what it is,” Lillian said, reaching out for a clean pair of pyjamas in the midst of everything Lena was pulling out of the bag. “That should be it, besides clothes.”

 

            “Okay,” Lena murmured, setting the laundry in a pile so that she could take it down and wash it, before carrying the toiletries over to the dresser and neatly arranging them. When she turned back around, she froze for a moment at the sight of her mom changing into pyjamas – at the sight of the white bandages wrapped around her flat chest. Averting her gaze, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat and walked over to the bed to pick up the clothes. “I’ll leave you to rest.”

 

            “Hey, wait a second,” Lillian gently said, stopping Lena before she could even take a step towards the door, “I want to talk for a minute.”

 

            Looking up, Lena gave Lillian a wary look, “about what?”

 

            Sighing, Lillian shook her head, before giving her daughter a small smile, “come sit down with me for a moment.” She pulled the blankets back and climbed into bed, and Lena slowly put the clothes down, before climbing onto the bed and sitting down beside Lillian. “How’re you doing?”

 

            Bursting into tears, Lena put her head in her hands as her shoulders shook with her sobs, “I wish people would s-stop asking me that.”

 

            Lillian quietly laughed, rubbing soothing circles on her daughter’s back, “hey, it’s okay. I know it’s a hard question to answer. Come here.” Lena didn’t fight as Lillian pulled her down beside her, wrapping an arm around her and stroking her hair. “It’s all going to be okay.”

 

            “I know,” Lena choked out, “but it’s so hard. I’m trying to keep things normal, but I keep snapping all the time, a-and I can’t stop crying. Menopause sucks; no wonder you were such a raging bitch all the time.”

 

            “Oh, Lena. You always have been a bit theatrical,” Lillian sighed, giving Lena a gentle squeeze. “I’m just glad you have Kara and the girls.”

 

            “That doesn’t mean I’ll be okay if-“ she couldn’t even finish the sentence as a lump formed in her throat, and she fought back another sob.

 

            Kissing her on the forehead, Lillian gently sighed, “I’ll be okay – no matter what. At least I’ll know that I fixed things with you when I had the chance. And I got to see you get married, and become a parent, and watch the girls grow up.”

 

            “Not all the way,” Lena tearfully cried, “y-you haven’t seen them graduate, or go t-to college. You haven’t seen them fall in love and go to their weddings.”

 

            “I will,” Lillian whispered.

 

            “You promise?” Lena asked, and she didn’t care how childish the question was. She didn’t care that it didn’t mean anything, because her mom wasn’t in control of these kinds of things; she just needed to hear Lillian promise that she wasn’t going anywhere. Not yet.

 

            Her question elicited a weak laugh off Lillian, “I promise. Now, I’m going to fall asleep, so you’d better go and make the most of the peace and quiet, before the kids get home.” She patted Lena on the back, getting her to sit up, and Lena wiped at her eyes, taking a deep breath to calm herself down.

 

            She shifted over to the edge of the bed and stood up, gathering up the armful of Lillian’s laundry giving her mom a small smile, “get some rest.”

 

            “You too – you look awful.”

 

            Lena laughed at that and quietly slipped out of the room, making her way down to the laundry room and putting on some washing. With the low rumble of the washing machine drifting after her, she made her way to the kitchen and made two cups of tea, watching Artemis chew on a squeaky toy as she listened to the kettle boil. It was lightly snowing outside, and everything felt still and quiet, leaving Lena alone with her thoughts for a few minutes as she tried to sort through her emotions. She was confused, to say the least, because things were all over the place – including her feelings – and she wasn’t sure whether she should be looking on the bright side of things, or feel like her sadness was justified. Sighing, she made the tea and picked up both cups, going in search of Kara to spend some alone time with her.

 

            She found her in her photography room, sitting in the middle of the room with polaroids scattered all around her, and a look of concentration on her face. A slight smile was playing on her lips, and Lena paused in the doorway for a moment, drinking in the sight of her as she held both cups in her hands. After a few moments, Kara let out a quiet laugh, “are you just going to stand there, or are you going to help?” Looking up, Kara’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at the redness of Lena’s eyes – the tell-tale signs that she’d been crying. She let out a gentle sigh, her face softening as she looked at Lena with so much love and concern that she almost felt like crying again. “Oh, Lena.”

 

            “I’m okay,” she hoarsely replied, gently clearing her throat as she walked into the room and held a cup of tea out to Kara, before slowly sinking down to the floor, opposite her. “Which photo are you smiling at?”

 

            Kara held it out to her, and Lena laughed as she took in the drama going on in the photo. Maggie was on her feet, and so was Daisy, towering above her, and their mouths were open – clearly in the middle of arguing. Alex had her head in her hands, while Lena was biting back a smile, and in the middle of the photo was a monopoly board. Beneath it in a black marker, Kara’s neat writing said ‘Family game night – Monopoly dispute #11’ with the date beside it. Shaking her head, Lena let out another laugh, “well that one’s definitely in. If only to tease Maggie about her height when we go through it again.”

 

            Taking the photo back, Kara laughed as she added it to the pile that Kara had already started making, for ones that were going to be added. Lena glanced at the other ones – Daisy playing the piano at her recital, Lily sat on the back of her horse a few weeks ago, and her and Kara before the celebratory dinner – and smiled slightly as she looked back up, meeting Kara’s worried blue eyes. “Don’t frown, or you’ll look like an old woman,” Lena chided her, reaching out to rub away the little crinkle between her eyebrows.

 

            “Don’t you love me with my wrinkles?” Kara asked, laughing as she arched an eyebrow.

 

            Lena’s gaze softened as she reached out to cup Kara’s face, “of course I do. I love the little ones by your eyes the most – it means you’ve laughed a lot.”

 

            The wrinkles at the corners of her eyes deepened as she laughed at Lena’s words, nudging her glasses up her nose, “well you’re just so funny that I can't help it. Any nice words about my grey hairs?”

 

            Pursing her lips slightly, Lena brushed her fingers at the grey at Kara’s temples and gave her a loving smile, “they weren’t there when I met you.”

 

            “That’s supposed to make me feel better?” Kara asked, jokingly looking offended, until Lena cut her off with a kiss.

 

            “You didn’t let me finish,” she said, “they weren’t there when I met you, but that means we’ve been together long enough to watch each other get old. I like that thought. It means we’ve loved each other for a long time.”

 

            Kara deliberated for a second before shrugging, “okay, that was quite sweet; I’ll give you that one. No wonder all of your assistants want to sleep with you.”

 

            Giving her an unimpressed look, Lena grimaced, “very funny, Mrs Danvers-Luthor. And it’s just one assistant, and she wasn’t my type. I’m only into middle-aged married women these days – if I was going to go for any of my assistants, I’d go for Jess, of course.”

 

            “Of course,” Kara agreed, shaking her head as she laughed. “Now, give me a kiss before you make me jealous.”

 

            “Hmm,” Lena hummed, taking a sip of her tea while she stayed sat across from Kara, before she set the tea down and leant back on her elbows, “I quite like the idea of you getting jealous.”

 

            “How old are you again?” Kara asked, raising her eyebrows slightly as she laughed.

 

            Lena shrugged, smirking slightly at Kara, who suddenly threw herself at Lena, pinning her beneath her and laughing as she leant down to give her a kiss. Lena laughed as Kara started peppering her face with kisses, laying on top of the photos and scattering them everywhere as Kara began to tickle her, knowing how much Lena hated it. “Okay, okay. I won’t make you jealous,” Lena breathlessly laughed, pushing herself up and giving Kara an amused look, “I love you too much to even try.”

 

            With another quick kiss, Kara leant her forehead against Lena’s, gently tracing the curve of her high cheekbone as she smiled slightly. For a few minutes, it had felt like nothing had changed, and Kara recalled Lena’s words from that morning, about how much she had missed things being normal, and she let out a soft sigh of content, having missed moments like this over the past couple of weeks. “For the record, I’ve missed you too.”

Chapter Text

            Lena woke up early the next morning, dropping a kiss on the top Kara’s head, before rolling out of bed and padding over to the bathroom to shower. The hot water relaxed her, and she could’ve stayed under it forever, but the sound of the shower door opening startled her out of her numb position under the shower head. She looked over her shoulder, taking in the sight of Kara, who was bleary eyed and looking a bit grumpy as she pulled off her pyjamas and climbed into the shower. With a small smile, Lena reached out to cup her face, running a thumb over her cheekbone as she watched Kara blink away sleep.

 

            “Morning,” Kara mumbled after a few moments, splashing some hot water onto her face.

 

            “You should’ve stayed in bed longer,” Lena said, picking up the shower gel and squeezing some into her hands. Kara made a noncommittal mumbling noise as Lena began to wash her back for her, and they were both silent for the rest of the shower.

 

            Dressed in warm, casual clothes, they both went downstairs, Lena flipping lights as they went, while Kara made a beeline for the kitchen - more specifically, the coffee. A squeaking sound caught their attention, and the clicking sound of nails on the floor announced the presence of Artemis, and Lena smiled as she breezed past Kara and turned the coffee machine on, watching as her wife fussed with the puppy. By the time they had two cups of coffee set down before each of them, the sky was starting to lighten outside, and they could see the snow coming down.

 

            “Mm, I might take the girls to school today,” Kara murmured, “not that I don’t trust Daisy, but it’s going to be a bit icy.”

 

            “That would make me feel better too. I should check on the horses too,” Lena said around the rim of her cup, taking a sip and letting the warmth of the cup seep into her hands.

 

            Kara gave her a small smile, reaching across the table with her hand outstretched for Lena’s, which was readily put into the waiting hand. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather me stay home today?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            Laughing, Lena gave her hand a quick squeeze, “first of all, my mom’s a workaholic and will hardly be able to relax with you at the office, so imagine what she’d be like if you were both home. I think I’ll be fine though, love. It’s not like we’re going to be at each other’s throats - she’ll probably just stay in bed. I’ll have the house perfectly clean by the time you get home.”

 

            “You need to relax as well,” Kara sternly told her, “it’s almost Christmas and you’ve got a lot on your plate.”

 

            “Don’t worry, the Christmas gala’s coming up, and I fully intend on getting drunk enough to ruin at least four business deals,” Lena said, giving Kara a smile, and rolling her eyes when she saw her wife’s narrowed eyes and thin lips. “That was a joke. My party girl days are far behind me. I promise I won’t do any work today – not a single piece of paperwork or anything.”

 

            Smiling, Kara tilted her head to the side as she gazed lovingly at Lena, “good. Just … spend some time with your mom.”

 

            “You sound worried,” Lena weakly joked, a wry smile on her lips as she raised her cup of coffee and took a small sip.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara drained her own cup and climbed to her feet. Rounding the table, she stopped to drop a kiss onto the top of Lena’s head, “what I’m worried about is that you both work far too much, and you’re going to waste your opportunity to bond while you’re both off over the holidays.”

 

            Lena let out a quiet laugh, draining her cup and holding it out to Kara when she held out a hand for it, “what would you like me to do, paint her nails? Do her makeup?”

 

            With a sigh, Kara walked over to the kitchen and put some water on to boil, and Lena twisted around in her chair to arch an eyebrow at her. “Well, it’s not a bad idea,” Kara shrugged, rolling her eyes at the snort of laughter Lena let out, “I’m being serious! She’s just had surgery and been in hospital for a few days. This is your mother who gets a blow dry every week and takes pride in her appearance. Maybe helping her feel like her normal self isn’t such a bad idea.”

 

            “You wouldn’t be talking about me now, would you?” Lillian asked from the doorway, already dressed in a pair of perfectly pressed pants and a thick sweater, with her hair and makeup immaculately done – right down to the perfectly applied lipstick.

 

            “Mom,” Lena greeted her, her lips quirking up into a smile as Lillian cocked an eyebrow at her, “were your ears burning?”

 

            Kara pulled another cup out of the cupboard and added another teabag, while Lena climbed to her feet and pulled her chair out for Lillian to sit down in. “Good morning, Lillian. Is tea okay?” Kara asked.

 

            “Tea would be lovely, thank you,” Lillian said, waving away Lena’s help as she tried to hold her arm, “honestly, Lena, don’t fuss. I’m fine.”

 

            “Shouldn’t you still be in bed?” Lena asked, giving her mom a pointed look as she sat back down in her own seat.

 

            Lillian scoffed as she lowered herself down onto her seat, wincing slightly, which made Lena climb to her feet and walk over to the cabinet with all of their pills and first aid stuff, quickly fetching Lillian some painkillers and a glass of water, before sitting back down. “I’m a doctor, I know what I can handle,” Lillian said as she washed the two pills down, draining the glass and setting it back down on the table.

 

            Balancing the three cups of tea, Kara set them down on the table as she laughed, “don’t they say doctors make the worst patients?”

 

            “Doctors say that because we don’t like other doctors knowing more than us,” Lillian replied, pursing her lips as she leant back in her chair, “luckily, that’s never happened to me.”

 

            “Just take it easy, mom,” Lena disapprovingly replied, “I don’t want you reopening your stitches.”

 

            “It’s not as if I’m doing anything strenuous; I’m drinking tea at the kitchen table,” Lillian huffed, rolling her eyes as she lifted her tea and took a sip, almost as if she was making a point. “Besides, I’m going to be taking over your office all day anyway; I’ve got a stack of paperwork to get through.”

 

            Biting back a smile, Kara gently cleared her throat, “all paperwork has been banned today in this household. You two are going to do something relaxingly fun.”

 

            Lillian made a small sound of indignation, but didn’t argue as she took in the stern, yet mildly amused look on Kara’s face, “relaxingly fun? And what exactly does that entail?”

 

            Kara looked at Lena, who lazily shrugged as she leant back in her chair, “because I’m the epitome of relaxingly fun in this household.”

 

            “You're both certified geniuses, I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Kara said, giving her a pointed look, and Lena let out an exasperated sigh as she drank her tea.

 

---

 

            It was nearing lunchtime and Lena was just heading back inside from the stables after checking on the horses, taking off her wellies and knocking them together to get the snow off them. Inside the small coatroom at the back of the house, she took off her thick coat and put her shoes on the rack, before padding through the house in her socks, and making for the kitchen. The snow was heavy and she shivered as she walked into the kitchen, making a sound of disapproval as she took in the sight of Lillian doing paperwork at the kitchen table. Walking over to her, Lena plucked the pen out of her hand and gave her a slight smirk, “if I don’t get to do paperwork, neither do you.”

 

            Lillian spluttered slightly, before sighing, “well, you shouldn’t have promised her you wouldn’t.”

 

            Shrugging, Lena put the kettle on to boil, before opening the fridge, “do you want a sandwich? I can make you soup, or I can make a Panini for you.”

 

            “What kind of soup?” Lillian skeptically asked.

 

            Pausing, Lena hesitated, thinking about her cooking skills and Lillian's fussiness, “scrap the soup, we can have sandwiches.”

 

            They talked as Lena quickly assembled a sandwich each for them, and made them both some tea, avoiding sensitive topics, and mostly focusing on Christmas, the kids, and work. She hadn’t really had the chance to properly talk to her mom for a few weeks, and much to Lena’s surprise, she found herself filled with relief at the chance to get things off her chest, and it was almost surprisingly easy to talk to Lillian about Kara. A part of Lena suspected that that had to do with the fact that Lillian had helped her so much the first time she’d gone through this with Kara, but this time, she didn’t have any new advice for Lena, and she knew that this was all on her and Kara to sort out between themselves. As they finished eating, they both sat there in silence, their plates and cups empty, feeling restless after a full morning of doing nothing. Lena had done all the laundry, vacuumed all of the rooms that needed it, emptied the dishwasher and taken out all the trash – there was no more housework she could do, unless she started fussing about in the rooms that no one ever went into. Lillian had been reading medical journals all morning, but even she seemed to be getting tired of them by now.

 

            After a few moments of silence, Lena turned to look at Lillian and gave her a small smile, “you know, if we were to work on our computers, technically it wouldn’t be paperwork.”

 

            Lillian gave her a look of surprised approval, “technically you’re right, but I don’t think that’s what Kara meant.”

 

            “Well I won’t tell if you don’t,” Lena shrugged, before pausing, “I mean, I will tell, but technically we’re not wrong.”

 

            “I’ll fetch my laptop,” Lillian said.

 

            They spent the rest of the afternoon typing away at their laptops at the kitchen table, and despite what Kara would think, it was a great way for them to bond. Lillian might not have been overly involved with L-Corp anymore, but Lena still told her about all of the projects and asked for her advice on things, and being married to Kara meant that Lena knew a lot about Lillian’s work, so they talked about that too. Working across from each other in companionable silence, with the occasional question or comment, made the time pass by quickly, and it wasn’t long before they heard the front door open, and the sounds of multiple voices reached their ears. Climbing to her feet, Lena gave Lillian an exasperated look as she made for the door, walking through the house until the sight of three teenage girls and Alex came into sight.

 

            “Hi mom,” Lily said, stopping to give Lena a hug as she made a beeline for the kitchen.

 

            Daisy breezed past with a hello, followed by Carter, and Lena shook her head as she turned to look at Alex. “Thanks for picking them up.”

 

            “No problem,” Alex said, kicking off her boots and shrugging out of her coat, “how was your day? Is your mom doing okay?”

 

            “It wasn’t too bad, and she's been fine,” Lena shrugged, “are you staying for some coffee?”

 

            “Sure,” Alex said with a small smile, reaching out to touch Lena on the arm as she went to turn around, “hey, can we talk for a second.”

 

            Frowning slightly, Lena nodded, walking down the hallways and making a left, before opening the door to one of the smaller downstairs sitting rooms and slipping inside. “What’s up?”

 

            “I wanted to make sure you were okay,” Alex said, shrugging slightly as she gave Lena a grim smile, “I know things with Kara have been tough – I’m on your side in that, don’t worry – and your mom too, so yeah, I just- I know you won’t complain to anyone else about it, but hey, what’re family for, right?”

 

            “Things were a bit better yesterday,” Lena said, giving her a small smile, “she talked a little, so that was a small breakthrough. You know how she gets when she’s like this – she doesn’t mean to be all aloof, but she is – but she tried yesterday. Therapy’s still off the table for now though.”

 

            Alex let out a snort of laughter as she shook her head, “she’s such a stubborn ass. You both are. Just let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

 

            “You can get your ass over here on Friday for family game night – it’s been a few weeks since everyone was free,” Lena said, raising her eyebrows slightly.

 

            Letting out a small groan, Alex grimaced, “I’m working that night. Not all of us are billionaires, you know.”

 

            Lena let out a quick laugh, “my mom has cancer and it would make me feel better.”

 

            “Okay that’s a shitty thing to do because you know I can’t say no now without looking like a fucking asshole,” Alex grumbled, “but I’ll see if I can get my shift swapped.”

 

            “That’s why you’re my favourite sister-in-law,” Lena said, giving her a bright smile.

 

            “Maggie will be upset to hear,” Alex snorted, before she opened the door and walked out, with Lena following close behind. They walked through the house, heading towards the kitchen, when Alex turned and raised her eyebrows, “the place is looking a little bare for the holidays. Kara usually has the place looking like Santa’s workshop exploded.”

 

            Running a hand through her hair, Lena shrugged, “oh, yeah, we’ve been a little overwhelmed. I kind of forgot Christmas is so soon, you know, with everything that’s been going on.”

 

            “I know we usually all come here, but if it helps, we can do it at mine this year,” Alex offered.

 

            “No, no, it’s fine. Of course Christmas is going to be the same as always, we’re just running behind with the decorating and stuff,” Lena quickly assured her.

 

            “Are you sure?”

 

            She gave Alex a warm smile, “of course. It’ll be as festive as always, if Kara has anything to say about it.”

 

---

 

            “I’m home!” Kara’s voice floated towards Lena as she struggled up the steps leading up from the basement with a box in her arms. “Lena? Girls? What’s going on?”

 

            Reaching the top step, Lena staggered as she carried the box down the hallway and through to the foyer, dumping it on top of another box, before she straightened up and beamed at Kara. “Hi, honey, good day at work?”

 

            Slowly taking her coat off, Kara gave Lena a wary look as she slowly replied, “yeah, it was good.”

 

            Lena reached her and took her coat off her, quickly hanging it up, before giving her a kiss, “good. The girls are just finishing off their homework, and my mom’s taking a nap.”

 

            “And what’re you doing?” Kara asked, raising her eyebrows slightly as she took in the mess of boxes clogging up the middle of the foyer.

 

            “We are putting up the trees tonight,” Lena told her, “it’s almost Christmas and you wouldn’t even know it if you looked at the place. So tonight, we’re doing something normal, and we’re making this place look so fucking festive that it gets mistaken for the north pole.”

 

            “Oh,” Kara said, before letting out a surprised laugh, looking down at her skirt, “well, I’d better change into something more comfortable.”

 

            Giving Kara another quick kiss, Lena made her way back towards the door leading to the basement, and started lugging up more decorations. It wasn’t long before she was joined by Kara and the girls, after Kara had argued that they could have one night off school work to enjoy themselves and help put the trees up, and Lena had been all too willing to agree. She’d had three giant trees delivered to the house, and by the time Lillian appeared at the top of the stairs, they had Christmas music playing, and the four of them were all working on decorating the one in the foyer, amidst a mess of decorations. When they got into decorating, they went all out, and Lena actually enjoyed Christmas now, and even Lillian got into the Christmas spirit, if only for the sake of her granddaughter’s. In some ways, Lena was trying to give them the childhood she never got, while simultaneously giving them the one that Kara got with the Danvers, and cherished so dearly.

 

            For the rest of the night, they drank hot chocolate and decorated the three trees, as well as the rest of the house, while Christmas music and the smell of pine needles and a crackling fire filled the air. It was the most relaxed Lena had felt in a while, and she found herself laughing as Daisy hoisted Lily up onto her shoulders to put the stars on the top of the trees, and willingly letting Kara pull her into dancing along to the Christmas songs. Even Lillian seemed to be enjoying herself, sitting in an armchair and nursing her own drink while she watched on in amusement. And Kara – well, Lena always thought she looked beautiful, but she seemed more carefree as she carefully placed baubles on the trees and rolled her eyes when the girls started irritating each other with the tinsel. It felt like Christmas.

Chapter Text

            “Hey that’s cheating! You landed on mine, you have to give me money!”

 

            “Sorry little Daisy, but your sister just rolled, which means that someone should’ve been paying attention,” Maggie smugly said, grinning triumphantly at her niece, while holding her hand out for Lily to high five her.

 

            Everyone laughed as Daisy crossed her arms over her chest, her eyebrows drawn down low over her angry blue eyes as she scowled. “Good god, look at that frown!” Lillian laughed, “she definitely picked that up from you, Lena.”

 

            “Well I’m not surprised mom frowned all the time if she had to spend a lot of time with Aunt Maggie,” Daisy snarkily replied as she pouted, and Maggie let out a loud laugh as she reached over and messed up her hair.

 

            Lena bit back a smile as she watched Daisy roll her eyes and give her aunt an exasperated look. Family game nights were always fun and eventful, and if they’d argued a lot when Lena was younger and had first started dating Kara, it was nothing compared to how much everyone bickered once they’d all had kids. It was like there were seven kids there, instead of three, leaving Lillian to play referee, and keep them all in check while they played monopoly.

 

            “Don’t worry, Dais, Aunt Maggie won’t be so smug when I wipe the board with her,” Lena arrogantly proclaimed, arching an eyebrow as she smirked at Maggie.

 

            “Oh please, you’ve never been able to beat me at monopoly,” Maggie snorted, “you’re only good at poker, and that’s only because of your wild boarding school days.”

 

            “Oh fuc-“

 

            Kara cut Lena off, with a sharp look as she clapped her hands together, “okay! Time to roll, Carter. Here’s the dice, honey.”

 

            Daisy let out a snort of laughter and raised her eyebrows as she looked at her parents, “you guys do know we’re not kids now, right. You can say fuck.”

 

            “Daisy May Danvers-Luthor,” Kara spluttered, “it doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s no need to swear, and it’s not an attractive quality.”

 

            Lena choked on a laugh, shrugging when Kara turned her attention to her, giving her a sharp look. “Sorry, it’s just, well, you married me, and I swear all the time. It’s clearly not an unattractive quality.”

 

            “I didn’t marry you for your colourful language, and it’s not setting a good example for the kids,” Kara pointedly said, before she looked at Daisy, “dollar in the swear jar, you know the rules.”

 

            Letting out an exasperated sigh, Daisy rolled her eyes, “whatever.”

 

            Alex pressed her lips together to stop herself from smiling as she rolled for her turn, moving the little boot around the board. “Hm, Lena, can I buy your railway for four hundred?”

 

            At the question, Maggie’s head whipped around to Lena, her eyes narrowing in a warning - she’d refused to sell it to Maggie, just to piss her off, because she knew it got her wound up. Pretending to consider it, Lena pursed her lips with a thoughtful look on her face, “hm, you know what, yes, you can.”

 

            “Dude, what the fuck,” Maggie exclaimed, and Kara let out a loud groan, burying her face in her hands.

 

            “You’re all incorrigible,” she grumbled, while the three teens laughed, and the adults tried to be somewhat more mature. It didn’t stop Maggie from slyly flipping Lena off behind Kara’s back though, or the curse mouthed back behind cupped hands. Lillian just tutted and shook her head, used to the antics of the girls by now, and reached for the dice and letting them spill across the board as the game carried on.

 

---

 

            Lillian had gone to bed, and the three girls were upstairs doing god knows what, leaving the four women sitting in the sitting room, drinking wine and whiskey before the fire. Kara was curled up above Lena, who was happily stretched out on the floor, and content to stay there all night, with her wife lazily playing with her hair. Alex was sitting on the sofa across for them, while Maggie had commandeered an armchair, and had her feet propped up on the coffee table.

 

            “She’s flying in for your New Years party though, right?” Alex asked.

 

            “Oh yeah, I’ll drag her and her husband here myself if I have to,” Lena said, “she wasn’t my assistant for that long for her to be able to get rid of me now. Besides, Jess loves me - she would never abandon me to you lot.”

 

            Kara let out a quick laugh, “hm, well she can’t love you that much if she’s never made a move on you.”

 

            Grimacing, Lena pursed her lips as she craned her neck around to look up at Kara, who was smiling innocently, “very funny.”

 

            “What are we missing?” Maggie asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.

 

            “Lena’s assistant made a pass at her,” Kara explained, raising her eyebrows slightly as she smirked around the rim of her wine glass. Groaning, Lena threw her head back against the sofa, closing her eyes as she waited for the onslaught of teasing.

 

            Maggie burst into laughter, while Alex spluttered in surprise, “what!?”

 

            “The young girl that’s always preening around you? What’s her name? Elaine?” Maggie snickered.

 

            “Alana,” Lena grumbled, lowering her head and giving Maggie a dark look, “and she didn’t preen around me.” Alex and Maggie both let out snorts of laughter, and Lena flushed red with embarrassment, “you’re both assholes.”

 

            Kara quietly laughed from her spot on the sofa, and Lena slid down lower, crossing her arms over her chest like a sulky child. That just made Maggie’s smile grow even wider, her dimples making an appearance alongside her glee. “So, what’d she say? What’d you do?”

 

            Spluttering, Lena bolted upright, “what do you mean what did I do? I fired her! Obviously. And she said I was ... tense.”

 

            Kara’s hands gently rested on Lena’s shoulders, giving them a quick squeeze “mm, she wasn’t wrong; you are a little tense.”

 

            “Maybe you should’ve taken her up on her offer,” Maggie quipped, “and you know what, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to even try. Looks like someone has a thing for married mothers and those fucking grandma blouses you borrow off your mom.”

 

            “Fuck you,” Lena grumbled, flipping Maggie off as she reached for her glass of wine.

 

            “Well I like the way you dress,” Kara said, leaning down to kiss Lena on the top of her head, “and at least you don’t look like you’re a part of the biker duo over there.”

 

            Alex shrugged, taking a sip of her wine and smiling, “just because no one’s hitting on you, Kara. There’s no need to be jealous.”

 

            “Who’s hitting on you?” Maggie asked, her head whipping around, “it better be another me. Is it another me?”

 

            “I don’t need other people hitting on me, thank you,” Kara said, bristling slightly at her sister’s teasing, “I’m quite happy with Lena doing that for me.”

 

            Reaching her hand up, Lena took Kara’s hand in her own and pulled it down to her level, placing a quick kiss on the back of it. Alex scoffed while Maggie rolled her eyes, “yeah you two are sickeningly cute, we know.”

 

            “We’ve earnt it,” Kara reminded them.

 

            “Mm, we’re well aware,” Alex mumbled, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. Even after so long, it was still a sensitive topic that was rarely touched on, and brought up a whole range of different feelings and memories that they would all rather forget, but weren’t able to. It usually was only discussed when something triggered the onslaught of memories again, like Kara’s run in with Mike, and the four of them would all uncomfortably tiptoe around the memories of Kara being presumed dead for two weeks, while Kara got caught up in the memories of dragging herself through the desert.

 

            Lena craned her neck again, looking up at Kara and seeing the distant look in her eyes as she brooded over some thought about the past. With a gentle tug of her hand, Lena brought her back down to earth, and as Kara’s eyes locked onto hers, she gave her a quick smile. With the unspoken conversation about the army and near death experiences putting a damper on the mood, the four of them finished their drinks, and then Alex and Maggie fetched their coats, while Kara went upstairs to fetch their daughter for them. Lena wished them goodnight, smiling as she watched Carter excitedly jingle the car keys, happy to be driving her mom’s home, and shut the door as the headlights swept down the driveway and the car disappeared from sight.

 

            Switching the lights off as she went, Lena slowly walked upstairs, going up to the third floor to make sure the girls were in bed. Tucking Lily into bed, even though her youngest insisted that she was too old for that now, Lena whispered goodnight as she gently shut the door and walked down to Daisy’s room. She knocked twice, waiting for the distinct grunt that let her know she could come in, before opening the door and poking her head inside. Daisy was sitting cross legged on her bed, a pair of earphones on and her face lit by her computer screen.

 

            “Hey, time for bed now, okay?” Lena quietly said, sighing when her daughter didn’t so much as acknowledge that she’d spoken. Opening the door wider, Lena walked in and went over to the bed, sitting down and taking out one of the earbuds. “Are you listening to me?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “Are you going to say goodnight?”

 

            “Goodnight.”

 

            Lena sighed again, slowly pushing the laptop screen down a little so that her daughter was forced to look up at her, not look very pleased at the fact. “What’s up?”

 

            Giving her mom a slightly perplexed look, Daisy shrugged, “nothing.”

 

            “Come on Dais, I know you better than that,” Lena gently prompted, reaching out to brush her daughter’s hair out of her face.

 

            “Mom, do you- do you ever wonder about ... where you came from?” Daisy asked in a small voice.

 

            Lena quietly exhaled, caught off guard by the question. “Oh,” she murmured, “I, uh, no, not really. I can’t remember any other family. Why, do you?”

 

            “One of the girls at school ... she said my real mom didn’t want me,” Daisy quietly said.

 

            “I’m your real mom,” Lena said, a lump forming in her throat as she reached out to cup her daughter’s chin in her hand, gently tilting her head up so that she could look her in the eyes.

 

            “I know, but-“

 

            “It doesn’t matter what the girls at school say,” Lena fiercely told her, her voice quiet in the dark, “your mom and I love you so much, okay? Come on, come and lay down a second; forget about your computer.” Daisy set her laptop down on the nightstand, and Lena nudged her over to make room for herself on the bed. Laying down, Lena drew her daughter close to her side, and for once, Daisy didn’t protest. She let Lena cuddle her, even though she was bigger than her mom, and Lena soothingly rubbed her arm.

 

            “The day you were born, your mom and I were so excited. We’d had you picked from the very beginning, long before you were born, and we were so excited - a little scared too, because we were frightened we might not get to have you - but we called everyone to let them know you were coming. They were all waiting there at the hospital to meet you - you already had a whole family who loved you. The moment I held you in my arms ... that was one of the best moments of my life, and I’ll never forget that feeling. You were tiny, believe it or not, and I was so scared that I wasn’t holding you properly. We already had your name picked out; Daisy, because your mom liked to make me flower crowns of daisies when we first met, at this place we used to go hiking to in National City. We had everything planned for you - we’d spent months reading books about babies, and buying tiny little clothes, and decorating the nursery. We did all of those things because we wanted you, and we love you so so much. No one can ever make you feel unwanted, because it’s not true. We picked you.”

 

            “Mom?”

 

            “Yes, love.”

 

            “I’m glad you picked me,” Daisy murmured, “you and mom ... you’re the best mom’s I could’ve asked for, even if we argue a lot.”

 

            Lena let out a quiet laugh, gently squeezing her as she pressed a kiss to her forehead, “you should’ve seen what grandma Lillian and I were like.”

 

            “Oh please, you two never argue. Grandma thinks you’re amazing,” Daisy scoffed.

 

            “Your grandma and I ... it took us a long time to learn to love each other. Things weren’t so great between us when I was your age,” Lena quietly told her.

 

            “Was that ... was that about your brother?” Daisy hesitantly asked.

 

            Lena sighed, thinking back to all the things that had been wrong in her childhood, and feeling a small twinge of sadness. “It was a lot of things, Dais.”

 

            “You still haven’t told me what happened,” Daisy reminded her, “you said we’d talk about it, but we didn’t.”

 

            “Not tonight, love,” Lena whispered, “it’s late. We will talk about it though - maybe tomorrow - there’s just been a lot going on.”

 

            “I know,” Daisy sighed, “and I’m trying to be good, I promise. That’s why I didn’t deck that bit-“

 

            Lena laughed as her daughter caught herself on the word, and gave her a quick squeeze, “it’s okay, what she said was extremely bitchy. If you punch her next time, I won’t even be mad, just don’t tell your mother I said that.”

 

            “Mom!” Daisy laughed, “you’re the one who’s always going on about my behaviour.”

 

            Laughing, Lena shrugged as she stroked Daisy’s hair and turned her head to kiss her on the forehead. “Well, that’s because you should behave yourself, but you’re my little girl, and you shouldn’t let people bully you. I got into a few fights myself, with snobby girls who made fun of me for being adopted. They soon learnt to shut up.”

 

            “Is this one of those wild boarding school stories Aunt Maggie was talking about?”

 

            “Yes, and you’re never going to hear them; I don’t want to give you any ideas,” Lena snorted, “now, no more questions. It’s time for bed.”

 

            Lena stayed where she was though, holding her daughter in her arms, and rubbing soothing circles on her arm. It was quiet for a few moments, before Daisy tilted her head up to look and Lena, “are you going to leave then?”

 

            “Shh, I just want to hold you a little longer. You’re getting too big for me to cuddle now,” Lena quietly laughed.

 

            “I’m almost an adult now, mom,” Daisy reminded her.

 

            Lena sighed, holding her just a little bit tighter, “I know, but you’ll always be my baby.”

 

---

 

            She jerked awake to a dark room, alerted by the presence of someone else, and took in the dark shadow of someone standing in the open doorway. Daisy was curled up against her side, fast asleep, and Lena smiled softly as she glanced down at her. They’d both fallen asleep.

 

            “What time is it?” Lena asked, her voice barely above a whisper as she tried to carefully extract herself from her daughter’s embrace.

 

            “Just a little after midnight,” Kara murmured, “I came to see where you’d gone off to. I thought you might be doing paperwork.”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, slowly climbing out of bed. Kara padded into the room, while Lena carefully worked the quilt out from under Daisy, so that she could tuck her in. She didn’t move at all throughout the whole thing - not even when Kara lifted her feet so that Lena could get the edge of the blanket out from under her - and Lena smiled as she gently pulled the covers up under her chin. “Thank god she sleeps like you,” Lena said to Kara, who quietly laughed.

 

            Brushing back the dark curls, she placed a gentle kiss on Daisy’s forehead, and Kara bent down to do the same, before they both stood back and stared down at her for a moment. Lena felt a warm hand rest on her shoulder, and she turned towards Kara, instinctively reaching out to gently touch her waist. They both silently slipped out of the bedroom, and Kara stopped to poke her head into Lily’s, before they made their way down to the second floor and into their own room. Quickly stripping off her clothes, Lena tumbled into bed without changing into pyjamas, and worked her way over to Kara’s still warm side of the bed, letting out a grateful moan when warm arms wrapped around her.

 

            “Is she okay?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            Lena softly sighed, “yeah, she was just ... she had some questions about- about being adopted. Something some girl said in school.”

 

            She felt Kara stiffen slightly in her arms, “what’d you say?”

 

            Pushing herself up slightly, Lena reached out and cupped Kara’s face in her hand, giving her a soft, lingering kiss. “I told her that we’re her parents, and we love her and we picked her. I told her the truth.”

 

            Kara let out a gentle sigh, relaxing against the pillows, “good. I worry about her sometimes; she doesn’t talk to us as much as I wish she would.”

 

            “Me too,” Lena admitted, laying back down and nestling her head in the gap between Kara’s neck and shoulder, “she said we’re the best mom’s though.”

 

            “You know what,” Kara murmured, kissing the side of Lena’s head, “I think she might be right. I think you’re the best too.”

 

            Scoffing, Lena tilted her head as she looked up at Kara, “the best?”

 

            “Mhm,” Kara murmured, “you’ve always been there for me, from the moment we first met.”

 

            Lena didn’t mention how she wasn’t there when Kara was crawling through a desert, bleeding out, or how it wasn’t true in reverse - Kara hadn’t been there for her during the worst two weeks of her life, with a good excuse - but she held her wife a little bit tighter, pressing a kiss to Kara’s shoulder. “All it took was one kiss for me to fall in love with you.”

 

            “I remember that kiss.”

 

            “You said you’d never forget it,” Lena smiled.

 

            “I don’t think that I ever will.”

Chapter Text

            She woke to a startled shout the next morning, an indication that Kara’s day wasn’t off to a good start, but Lena didn’t expect the call she got that afternoon. Stuck at home again with Lillian, Lena spent her day pottering around the house, until it was nearing the time when she expected Kara to arrive home with the girls. Her phone started vibrating on the kitchen counter, and Lena reached for it as she opened the oven door to check on the roast beef cooking in the oven, swearing as she fumbled with answering the phone and closing the door again.

 

            “Hello?” Lena said, the phone pressed to her ear as she threw the dish towel onto the counter and checked the potatoes boiling in the pot - they were almost ready.

 

            “Mom? Mom! It’s mom!” Daisy’s breathless voice came through, and Lena froze, pressing the phone harder to her ear.

 

            “Daisy? Honey, what’s wrong?”

 

            “There’s something wrong with mom,” her daughter panicked, “she’s not moving and she- she’s not listening to me. I don’t know what to do.”

 

            Biting back a curse as her heart leapt, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat, “where are you? Tell me where you are and I’ll come and get you.”

 

            “We’re like ... five minutes away. We’re just- we’re just sitting in the car.”

 

            “Okay, just sit tight. Don’t do anything. I’m on my way,” Lena assured her, hanging up as she hurried out of the kitchen.

 

            Skipping her coat and shoes, Lena grabbed her car keys, ignoring Lillian’s questions as she appeared at the top of the stairs, and ran outside. It was bitterly cold, and snow blanketed the driveway and the front of the house, numbing Lena’s feet as she cursed her way down the front steps and made for the garage. Her feet were burning from the cold, and her frozen fingers fumbled with the keys as she unlocked the Ferrari and climbed into the driver’s seat. Then she was speeding down the driveway, heedless of the ice on the road as she made her way to Kara as fast as she could.

 

            They weren’t far away, and Lena spotted the idling Range Rover a few turns from the gates to their estate, making a hasty u-turn and throwing the car into park, before she climbed out. Running barefoot over to the car, Lena tore open the passenger side, looking at the pale face of her eldest daughter, before her eyes flickered to Lily, who was crying in the backseat.

 

            “What happened?” she hoarsely asked, her gaze landing on Kara, who was breathing erratically, both hands tightly wrapped on the steering wheel and her eyes unfocused.

 

            “I-I don’t know,” Daisy said, her voice breaking as she looked up at Lena, “we were- we were just driving and everything was fine. A-a truck went past and i-it backfired and then-“

 

            She didn’t have the chance to explain further - she didn’t need to - and Lena grabbed her arm, tugging her out of the car. Pressing the keys into her daughter’s hands, Lena gave her the most convincing smile she could manage, “drive your sister home and put the kettle on. Tell grandma to keep an eye on the beef in the oven. I’ll be right behind you.”

 

            “But-“

 

            “Just do as you’re told,” Lena bluntly told her, pulling open the back door, and peering in at her youngest, “come on, Lils, Daisy’s going to drive you home. Mom and I will meet you there, okay?”

 

            She gently coaxed her other daughter out of the back, giving her a gentle push towards the Ferrari, and with a stern warning about being careful on the ice, she climbed into the passenger seat. The ostentatious red car pulled around them, and Lena watched it disappear as she turned to Kara, reaching out with a shaky hand.

 

            “Hey,” she calmly said, feeling anything but calm, “I know you can hear me. You can hear me, so a part of you knows you’re not there - you’re here, with me, your wife. You’re not there - that was a long time ago. It’s safe here, and cold. Look.” She wound down all of the windows, before pressing a cold hand to Kara’s warm cheek, “can you feel how cold that is? It’s the middle of fucking December. Come on, love, bring yourself back. Look at me. I’m right next to you.”

 

            Slowly but surely, she watched as Kara’s eyes focused, and her grip on the steering wheel loosened, until she realised where she was. Blinking slowly, a small crease formed between her eyebrows as she frowned slightly, “Lena?”

 

            “I’m here,” Lena said, her voice cracking as she reached out, shifting as close to Kara as she could to wrap her in a hug.

 

            “I was- I was-“ Kara stammered, sounding confused.

 

            “I know,” Lena whispered, stroking Kara’s hair as she closed her eyes, “you’re okay.”

 

            Bursting into tears, Kara started shaking in her arms as she sobbed, “no, I’m not. I’m not okay.”

 

            Feeling her own eyes prickle with tears, Lena blinked away the burning feeling, letting out a shaky breath as she buried her face in Kara’s hair. “I know. I know you’re not.”

 

            They stayed there until Kara had stopped crying, and they were both shivering from the freezing air blowing in through the open windows, and then Lena made them switch seats, before she quickly drove them home. Wincing as she climbed up the icy steps, her fingertips brushing Kara’s back, Lena felt a small sense of relief as they stepped into the house. The girls were nowhere in sight, and Lena could hear banging noises from the kitchen, assuming that Lillian was cooking. At the sound of the front door closing, footsteps came towards her, and Lena looked up as her mom came into view, carrying two cups of tea.

 

            Kara kept her head ducked down, and Lena knew it was from embarrassment, making straight for the stairs, while Lena crossed over to her mom and quietly accepted the cup of tea. “I sent the girls to their rooms to do their homework,” Lillian said, “and dinner’s sorted.”

 

            “Sorry, I know you should be resting,” Lena murmured, running a hand through her hair.

 

            “It’s mashing potatoes, it’s not hard work,” Lillian snorted, before hesitating slightly, “what happened?”

 

            “A flashback,” Lena quietly replied, turning to watch as Kara reached the top of the stairs, “I’ll be down soon.”

 

            Lillian nodded, reaching out to give her arm a reassuring squeeze, “take your time.”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena nodded and turned towards the stairs. Hurrying up them, she made her way to their bedroom and shut the door behind herself, walking over to the bed and handing the cup of tea to Kara. “Drink it, quickly,” she ordered her, before walking into the bathroom and putting the plug into the bath, turning the taps on.

 

            Her feet were red and dirty from the cold ground, and she shivered as she stripped off her clothes, before walking back into the bedroom. Kara hadn’t moved, and Lena crouched down before her, helping guide the cup to her lips and watching as her wife instinctively drank. As soon as it was empty, she gently took the cup out of Kara’s hands and pulled her to her feet. In the bathroom, she helped her undress, and led her over to the bath, checking to make sure it wasn’t too hot for her, before helping her in and climbing in after her. It was a quick bath - just long enough to warm them both up, and to try and ground Kara - and Lena dressed them both in clean pyjamas once they got out.

 

            “Lena,” Kara quietly said as Lena gently pushed her down onto the bed, pulling back the covers and tucking her in.

 

            “Shh,” Lena murmured, “stay here.”

 

            “Where are you going?” Kara rasped.

 

            Leaning down, Lena brushed her lips against her forehead, “I need to make sure the girls are okay.” Kara’s eyes filled with tears, and she nodded, her throat bobbing up and down as she swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’ll be quick.”

 

            Walking upstairs, Lena went down to Daisy’s room first, gesturing for her brooding daughter to follow after her as she walked down the hallway and into Lily’s room. As she stepped inside, she sighed at the sight of her youngest daughter’s red eyes, walking over to the bed and sitting down, “come here, baby, it’s okay,” she said, opening her arms for her to crawl into.

 

            Lily tightly hugged Lena, crying into her shoulder, while Daisy stood just inside the doorway, her arms crossed and a pissed look on her pale face. “Mom, what’s wrong with mom?” Lily tearfully asked, “is she sick like grandma? Is she going to die?”

 

            “No, of course not,” Lena weakly laughed, “mom’s fine, she’s just ... she’s got a lot going on right now, and she hasn’t been sleeping properly. She was- she was just tired, and she- she thought she was somewhere else. I think she might be getting sick and was a bit confused because of the pills she took for it. She’s okay though, and she’s just taking a quick nap, so you’ll have to be quiet, okay?”

 

            “She’s okay?” Lily asked.

 

            Gently pushing her daughter back, Lena gave her a lopsided smile and reached out to brush Lily’s dark hair out of her face, before quickly wiping away her tears and kissing her on the forehead. “Your mom is fine, and there’s nothing to worry about, okay?”

 

            “Okay,” Lily murmured.

 

            “Good girl,” Lena said, giving her a small smile, “now, you can give grandma a hand with dinner, if you want, or else, you’d better start your homework.”

 

            Lily climbed to her feet, “dinner.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena stood up and put a hand on her shoulder, leading her towards the door. Daisy had been silent throughout the whole conversation, and slipped out before them, quickly walking downstairs and stopping at the top step of the others. Lena kissed Lily on the cheek and gave her a gentle push towards the steps, watching as she quickly made her way down them and made for the kitchen, before turning to Daisy. “Dinner or homework goes for you too,” Lena told her.

 

            “She’s not a baby, mom,” Daisy bluntly replied, “and neither am I. You can’t feed us some bullshit excuse about mom being tired and expect us to just accept it. If there’s something wrong with her, I have a right to know.”

 

            “No, you don’t,” Lena told her, “and it’s not an excuse. Your mom has bad dreams sometimes - she has for a while - and stress makes it worse.”

 

            “But-“

 

            “Enough, Daisy,” Lena sharply cut her off, “no more questions. Either go and help your grandma and sister, or go upstairs and do your school work.”

 

            Without another word, Daisy stormed back upstairs, and the quiet sound of a door slamming shut reached Lena’s ears. Sighing, Lena slowly walked back towards her room and slipped inside, pausing in the doorway as she looked at the figure laying on her side. Kara didn’t look up as she shut the door behind her. Crossing over to the bed, Lena hovered beside Kara, before reaching out and tenderly brushing her hair out of her face and pressing a kiss to her forehead. She knew Kara wasn’t sleeping, even though she had her eyes squeezed shut, and a moment later, Kara let out a pitiful sob that broke Lena’s heart.

 

            “Are you mad?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            Lena let out a soft sigh as she sank down onto the bed, reaching out to gently rub her hand up and down Kara’s arm. “I can’t be mad. That would just make me an insensitive asshole, if I got mad at my wife who has PTSD for having it.”

 

            Kara struggled upright, her eyes red and puffy as she angrily looked at Lena, “I don’t have it anymore! It’s been years. I’m fine.”

 

            “Well that’s not how it works, Kara,” Lena curtly replied, “it’s- it’s not something that you just- that has a cure. It’s just gone until it comes back again, and that’s okay. It’s okay to admit that.”

 

            “No, it’s not! It’s easy for you to say that because you don’t have it! You- you can just be a mom, and you don’t have to live with the fact that a part of you never came back. You don’t have to worry-“

 

            “I do! I do have to worry, because you’re my wife, and I have to look after you and our kids, and now my mom. It’s not easy for me to see you like this! None of this is easy. Kara, please. I just want to help you,” Lena interrupted her, reaching out to cup Kara’s face in her hands, wiping away the fresh tears with her thumbs. Kara wrenched her head out of her hands, and Lena made a small noise in protest.

 

            Letting out a tearful laugh, Kara rolled over so that her back was to Lena, pulling the covers up to her chin. “All you want to do is help.”

 

            “Because I love you!” Lena quietly exclaimed, “I love you and I want you to be okay, and until you are ...”

 

            “What?”

 

            Faltering, Lena shrugged as she opened and closed her mouth, trying to find something to say. “I don’t know. Maybe the girls- maybe they should stay with Alex and Maggie for a while. Just ... until you figure out what you want to do.”

 

            Pushing back the covers, Kara sat upright, giving Lena an incredulous look, “you want to take them away from me?”

 

            Sighing, Lena scooted closer to her, a pleading look on her face, “I’m not taking them away from you, I just- it’s not fair, Kara. Not on you, not on the girls. Lily’s been crying because she thinks you’re dying, and Daisy ... she’s not an idiot, Kara. She knows you’re not telling her the truth, and you need to decide if it’s worth keeping it from her.”

 

            “I can’t be both, Lena,” Kara said, her voice cracking as she wiped her eyes, “I can’t be their mom and- and this, to them. I can only be one in their mind, and I pick being their mom. I don’t want them to see me as someone different to their mom.”

 

            “You need to look after yourself,” Lena gently chided her, “if you don’t, it’s only going to get worse. You know this; you know you haven’t been this bad in years - maybe not since ... and you’re going to hurt yourself, or someone else. You were in a car, Kara. With our kids. What if you’d crashed? You could’ve killed them and yourself, and maybe someone else.”

 

            “I didn’t know I was- I didn’t know I’d-“

 

            “I know,” Lena murmured, “but you did. Just ... please, Kara, listen to me, just this once. Whatever it is you need to do to get better, do it. You said it yourself; you’re not okay.”

 

            Kara let out a shaky laugh, “what do you want me to do? Put myself in a hospital? Go to therapy every day? Sign up for a veterans group so we can all reminisce about how we almost died?”

 

            She scoffed and closed her eyes, and Lena let out a small sound of indignation as Kara bitterly belittled them. Gently brushing her hand against one of Kara’s cheeks, Lena moved closer, resting her forehead against Kara’s and letting out a quiet sigh. “None of those are shameful things. If it gives you the help you need, then it isn’t- it isn’t something that makes you weak. The girls don’t have to know, if you’re not ready to tell them yet.”

 

            “I said I’d tell them once Lily turned sixteen. I said I’d tell them together. They’d both be old enough to understand then. Daisy would now ... but Lily’s only fourteen, Lena. Can’t we protect her a little longer? I don’t want to take away her naïvety. They both don’t know what war is really like, and maybe we’ve sheltered them too much and made them think that the army is great, and I know that’s my fault-“

 

            “Kara-“

 

            “No, it is. I told them the good parts, to make up for the parts I haven’t told them. Maybe that’s why Daisy wants to join. I just ... I can’t tell them until I can talk about it without- I need more time. I-I still think about it every day, and those two weeks ... it’s such a small time, in comparison, but it’s- there’s no forgetting it. No coming back from it. I know you feel that too. I see it in your eyes when you get home before me - I see the relief in them when I make it home safe. You buried an empty coffin and you can’t forget it, and I ... I dragged a man through hell with me, and I can’t forget that either. One look in your eyes though - one look and I’m home.”

 

            “I’ll always be your home,” Lena whispered, her nose gently bumping against Kara’s.

 

            Letting out a shaky breath, Kara’s lips gently grazed Lena’s in the barest hint of a kiss, before she pulled back. “I know,” she whispered, before she lay back down and pulled the covers back over her, “make me an appointment for tomorrow.” Lena slowly breathed out, fussing with the blankets and kissing the side of Kara’s head, before she climbed to her feet and rounded the bed. Kara needed to rest, but she wasn’t going anywhere; she was going to be right beside her, like always.

Chapter Text

            Waking up early the next morning, Lena went downstairs and started making pancakes, hoping that it would be some small comfort to Kara. There wasn’t much she could do, and she hated feeling useless; she was a genius businesswoman, scientist and engineer, and she always had the answers and solution. For everything except this. It was dark outside, and she angrily mixed the batter in a large bowl, blinking back tears as a feeling of frustration threatened to overwhelm her. She couldn’t afford to fall apart; she was the only one who could look after everyone, and they needed her, which meant that she couldn’t fall apart. Bracing her hands on the edge of the kitchen counter, she took a couple of deep breaths, before standing up properly again, and carried on mixing.

 

            Kara rarely slept late, what with work, kids and bad dreams, and Lena wanted her to stay in bed as long as possible, hoping that some rest would help her mind relax, just a little. It wouldn’t make things easier, or better, but it was something. Her wife didn’t have the same idea though, because it wasn’t long before she was shuffling into the kitchen, bleary eyed and wild haired.

 

            “Morning,” Kara mumbled, leaning down to give Lena a quick kiss on the cheek.

 

            Reaching up to cup her cheek, Lena took in the dark circles under Kara’s eyes, knowing that she looked similar. They hadn’t slept well last night, despite the exhausting day, but Lena was worried about Kara more than herself. “You should’ve stayed in bed longer.”

 

            “I can’t,” Kara said, stifling a yawn as she turned on the coffee machine, “I’ve got to get ready for work.”

 

            “Hey, hey, no,” Lena quickly said, “no, no, no work today. Today, you’re staying home, and you’re staying in bed until we go to your appointment. It’s at eleven o’clock; we can get lunch afterwards if you’re feeling up for it, but you’re not going to work.”

 

            Frowning slightly, Kara pulled two mugs out of the cupboard, “I have a job to do, Lena. Your mom’s not at work, so I have to do what she normally does too. I can’t afford a day off work.”

 

            “Well tough,” Lena gently told her, “I can’t afford time off work either, but here I am, at home everyday, because I have people I love that need to be looked after. Whether they want to admit it or not.”

 

            “Well I have to drive the girls to school anyway,” Kara tried to reason with her, “it’s far too icy on the roads for me to be okay with Daisy driving them.”

 

            A small laugh of surprise fell past Lena’s lips before she could stop it, and she gave Kara an incredulous look. “You’re not driving yourself - let alone our kids - until you sort this out. I trust my seventeen-year-old daughter on the road more than I trust you driving right now. The last thing I need is a call that you’ve been in an accident.”

 

            A flicker of hurt crossed Kara’s face at Lena’s words, but she knew that she was right. It didn’t hurt any less though, being treated like a child, and she judged her empty mug away from her, “you know what, I think I will go back to bed, actually.”

 

            Sighing, Lena watched as Kara walked out of the kitchen, and ran a hand over her weary face, muttering curses to herself. She just wanted to keep everyone safe. It wasn’t a punishment, it was just her trying to make Kara take some time for herself, and she wished that she would see it that way. At least Kara hadn’t argued her point though, because she could easily have insisted that she was going to work, and just gone, but she’d resigned herself to the fact that she was staying home today, which meant that deep down, she knew Lena was right. The coffee pot finished filling, making the whole room smell like coffee and snapping Lena out of her thoughts, and she miserably poured herself a cup and started to make breakfast for herself.

 

            Sitting alone in the kitchen, drinking her bitter coffee, and picking the blueberries out of her pancakes, Lena was left to her thoughts, until footsteps made their way towards the door. Lillian came in, already dressed for the day, and Lena jumped to her feet, feeling a sense of relief at having something to do except wallow in her self-pity. “Morning,” she quickly said, beating Lillian to the coffee pot and waving her over to the table, “what do you want for breakfast? Oatmeal? Toast? Eggs?”

 

            “How long have you been up?” Lillian asked, arching an eyebrow at Lena’s erratic behaviour and wild-eyed look.

 

            “Since five,” Lena told her, “I also have pancake batter, but that’s not really your thing so ... what’ll it be?”

 

            Lillian just started at her for a few moments, and Lena swallowed the lump in her throat, knowing that her mom could see her fraying at the edges. “Oatmeal,” Lillian replied after a few tense moments, and Lena seemed to sag in relief, grateful that her mom hadn’t started picking her apart in the middle of the kitchen.

 

            A few minutes later, a steaming bowl of oats was in front of Lillian, dotted with fresh blueberries and drizzled with honey, and Lena sat down across from her, watching her mom eat. Out of everyone, Lillian seemed the most unperturbed by everything, being as stoic and brusque as ever, and Lena was somewhat grateful for her no nonsense attitude, no matter what was happening. Then other times, she wasn’t as grateful. “Well?” Lillian asked after a few moments.

 

            “Well what?” Lena asked, arching an eyebrow questioningly.

 

            Sighing, Lillian gave her an unimpressed look, “how’s Kara? She never came down for dinner last night.”

 

            “As well as you can expect,” Lena shrugged, climbing to her feet and going to refill her coffee cup. Kara had a strict one cup a day rule, and Lena knew more would just make her jittery, but she needed something, and tea would take too long to make. “Her appointment is at eleven today. Will you be alright alone by yourself?”

 

            Laughing, Lillian shook her head, “I’ve lived on my own for well over twenty years. I’m not a fragile doll, Lena, and I haven’t started my treatment yet either. I’m as well as before.”

 

            “Which wasn’t very well was it? Considering that you had breast cancer and didn’t know it,” Lena replied in a biting tone.

 

            “I know it’s hard for you-“

 

            “No you don’t,” Lena murmured, “you don’t know anything.”

 

            Her eyes burned as she ducked her head, raising her cup to her lips to give her something to do. A warm hand trapped hers to the table a moment later though, and she slowly lowered the cup back down to the table. “It’s okay to not be okay, Lena. You don’t have to be strong for all of us - not even the girls. I know you’re trying to give them all the attention I never gave you, but taking time for yourself isn’t selfish. We can all manage.”

 

            “Mom? Do you know where my tie is?” Lily’s distant voice came from somewhere on the ground floor, and Lena gave her mom and exasperated look as she climbed to her feet.

 

            “Are you sure?” Lena snorted, a wry smile on her lips as she made for the door. The light was on in the laundry room, and she walked in to find her daughter rifling through a pile of neatly folded clothes, messing them up just enough to irritate Lena, who bit her tongue.

 

            Opening the dryer, Lena pulled out a navy striped tie, and held it out to Lily, who took it as she murmured her thanks. Turning up the collar on her shirt, she wrapped the tie around her neck and hastily knotted it, before turning back towards the door. With a sigh, Lena reached out and stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, “you’re not going to school with your tie like that. Come here.”

 

            Sighing, Lily rolled her eyes as Lena reached up and loosened the knot, before tying it again properly and smoothing down the collar. “Thanks.”

 

            “Here’s a clean sweater,” Lena said, plucking one off the pile and handing it to her, “there’s pancakes for breakfast, if you want some.”

 

            Her daughter’s eyes lit up, and she smiled slightly, “blueberry ones?”

 

            “Mhm,” Lena smiled at her, gently turning her around and guiding her towards the door, “first, how about you drag your sister out of bed, and save me the trouble.”

 

            “Ugh, fine,” Lily grumbled.

 

            Lena quietly laughed, watching as Lily bounded towards the stairs and quickly ran up them, disappearing from sight. Walking back into the kitchen, Lena turned the frying pan on and was soon pouring the batter in, while she waited for her kids to be drawn to the smell of food. Lillian watched as she finished her own breakfast, before carrying her dishes over to the dishwasher and neatly stacking them. Lena jumped slightly at the feeling of a warm hand giving her shoulder a gentle, reassuring squeeze, and she looked up to meet her mom’s eyes.

 

            “You’ve always wanted someone to love you, and now you have a whole family, but don’t think that you need to put everyone else before yourself so you can keep that love,” Lillian told her.

 

            “That’s not-“

 

            “Lena, it’s okay to want to be loved. I know I made you feel like you weren’t, and maybe twenty years isn’t enough to make up for that, but it doesn’t mean that your family won’t love you if you need to do something they won’t like,” Lillian said.

 

            Frowning in confusion, Lena turned to face Lillian. “Something they won’t like? Mom, what’re you talking about?”

 

            “Not everything is Kara’s decision to make,” Lillian said, giving her a small smile, “I know you’d give her the world if she asked for it, but they’re your girls too. Talk to them, if you think it’s the right thing to do.”

 

            “What, you think I should tell the girls what happened to her, even though she doesn’t want them to know?” Lena snorted, “sorry, mom, but I’m not letting you interfere in my family when your own marriage wasn’t exactly great, and shit like this - that was the reason why. No offence, but just stay out of it. It’s her decision, not mine. Just ... focus on getting better. Can you do that for me? Because I don’t need to worry even more about you.”

 

            “I’m just trying to help you,” Lillian softly told her, reaching out to brush Lena’s hair out of her face and tutting when her daughter pulled back with a scowl on her face, “you need to do something to help sort things out, before you snap.”

 

            “I’m not going to snap,” Lena snapped, angrily flipping a pancake. She didn’t have the chance to further defend herself, because a moment later, the sound of two angry teenagers reached her ears as Daisy chased Lily down the stairs, swearing at her, while the younger girl yelled for Lena as she came sliding into the kitchen in her socks.

 

            It took a few minutes to diffuse the situation, with both of them yelling, while Lena tried to talk over the top of them, and Lillian made a cup of tea while she watched the commotion. It turned out that Lily had thrown a textbook at Daisy when she wouldn’t wake up, catching her on the cheek, which was red and starting to form a greenish bruise. In retaliation, Daisy had slapped her sister, leaving a red handprint on her cheek, and then Lily had kicked her in the shins. Trying not to shout, Lena made them both apologise to each other, and sit down at the kitchen table to eat their breakfast, both of them glowering as they stabbed at their pancakes, with Daisy holding some ice to her eye.

 

            She gave them a stern warning to behave while she carried a tray of pancakes and tea up to Kara, and left the kitchen, balancing everything as she gingerly climbed the stairs, awkwardly fumbling with the door handle as she tried to open it. Kara was stepping out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her, and Lena gave her a small smile, dumping the tray on the dresser.

 

            “Hey, I thought you might be hungry,” she murmured.

 

            “I was just about to come down and spend some time with the girls, before they go to school,” Kara said, brushing past Lena to open a drawer and pull out some underwear.

 

            Letting out a quiet bark of laughter, Lena reached out to unstick a damp lock of hair clinging to Kara’s neck, and wound it back into her messy bun for her. “You’re better off staying up here. I’m ready to strangle them both this morning,” she sighed.

 

            Smiling slightly, Kara ducked her head to kiss Lena’s shoulder, before walking into the closet and dressing casually in jeans and a sweater. Lena watched her as she walked back out, her lips curled into a soft smile as her eyes danced with something that was almost smugness. Kara caught her looking and tilted her head to the side as she crossed over to the dresser and picked up her breakfast, “what is it?”

 

            “Nothing,” Lena quickly told her, “you just ... you like nice today. You always do.”

 

            Kara let out a quick laugh, “oh yeah?”

 

            “Yeah,” Lena shyly said, “you’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

 

            “You’re not too bad yourself,” Kara whispered as she leant in, kissing Lena on the cheek, before she whisked away her food and disappeared out into the hallway.

 

---

 

            She was sitting in an expensive leather armchair in the best therapist’s office in the city, running her hands nervously up and down the thighs of her jeans, while the woman across from her read a magazine. She was one of five people in the waiting room, and it was quiet, except for the sound of the heater blowing out warm air, the receptionists nails tapping on the front counter in boredom, and the occasional sound of a page turning whenever the woman flipped to the next one.

 

            It was another five minutes before Kara’s session ended and the door to the therapist’s office opened. Lena stood up as she watched Kara shake hands with a kind looking elderly woman - the same one who had invited her in there - before walking down the hallway towards Lena. “Hey,” she murmured, reaching out to gently touch Kara on the arm.

 

            All she got in return was a small smile, and she pushed the glasses up her nose, before walking over to the front desk and handing over a credit card to pay for her session. Lena watched on, listening as Kara arranged a time for her next appointment, and a feeling of relief welled up inside her at that. It can’t have been that bad if she was agreeing to another session, and Lena hoped that she’d been able to talk about whatever Kara couldn’t talk to her about.

 

            Walking back outside onto the icy sidewalk, Lena opened the passenger side door of the car for Kara and shut it closed behind her. Rounding the car, Lena climbed into the driver’s seat and faced Kara as she buckled herself in. “Are you okay?”

 

            “Yeah,” Kara said, exhaling slowly, “yeah, I am.”

 

            Lena reached out and cupped her face in her hands, running the pads of her thumbs of Kara’s cheekbones, as her wife raised a hand to cover one of Lena’s with her own. “I’m proud of you,” Lena firmly told her.

 

            Kara smiled, closing her eyes as she peeled Lena’s hand off her face and turned to kiss her palm. “I believe I was promised lunch.”

 

            “Anything you want,” Lena immediately promised, and Kara’s eyebrows rose slightly in amusement.

 

            “Pie.”

 

            It wasn’t long before they found themselves sitting on the vinyl seats in the booth of Kara’s favourite diner, which she insisted sold the best pie in the whole city - a judgment that only she agreed with. One slice of apple pie and one slice of chocolate pecan sat on the table, whipped cream on both, and two cups of black coffee, one with three sugars to try and chase away the bitterness. Switching the plates around, Kara stole a bite of the apple one, humming with happiness as the sharp taste of the apple and the sweetness of the whipped cream burst on her tongue. Lena reached out for Kara’s with her fork, letting out a small whine of protest when Kara pulled that one back towards her with a small smile playing on her lips. “Excuse me, but I earned my pie.”

 

            “I had to stop two teenage girls from beating the shit out of each other this morning,” Lena told her, arching an eyebrow.

 

            After a slight pause, Kara slid her pie towards Lena, a small smile playing on her lips. “Fair call.”

 

            Taking a small bite out of it, Lena wrinkled her nose, giving Kara a small smile as she pushed her pie back towards her. “I’m still proud of you.”

 

            “I’m going to tell the girls,” Kara blurted out, and Lena choked on a mouthful of pie as she blinked in surprise. Giving her a hesitant smile, Kara shrugged, “after the new year, I’ll tell them both. I just- I want to have a good Christmas first.”

 

            Slowly nodding, Lena reached out and let her fingers gently graze against Kara’s fingertips. “After the new year,” Lena agreed, giving her a bright smile.

 

            They finished their pie quickly, and the rest of their coffee, before they left, with Kara reaching out to entwine her fingers with Lena’s as they left the diner. Lena carried a white box, containing a whole pie, as a small present for Kara for after dinner, and she opened the car door for Kara again, setting the box down on her lap, before climbing into the driver’s seat.

 

            “Hey,” Lena said, as Kara buckled her seatbelt, making a noise to let her wife know she was paying attention, “give me a kiss.”

 

            Kara let out a surprised laugh, meeting Lena’s gaze, “well come here then.”

 

            Eagerly crossing the console in the middle of the car, Lena tangled a hand in Kara’s blonde locks and brought her lips down in a hard kiss, with a slight sense of urgency behind it. They both hated it when there was tension between them, and they could feel it when all they got were cheek kisses and gentle touches, and it was never enough. It was as much of an apology as it was just a general desire to have the pleasure of kissing each other, and when Lena pulled back, she rested her forehead against Kara’s for a moment. “I love you.”

 

---

 

            “Mom, we’re home,” Daisy’s weary voice drifted up towards Kara’s photography room, where both parents were currently looking through one of the photo albums filled with baby photos.

 

            Lena let out a snort of laughter at one of a soaking wet Daisy crying, while Maggie stood nearby, shrugging apologetically after a failed attempt of teaching her niece how to swim. She kissed the top of Kara’s head as she pushed herself to her feet, “you stay here; I need to have a chat with them both.”

 

            “Sounds serious,” Kara replied, frowning slightly as she peered down at the next one, “what’s it about?”

 

            “My brother,” Lena sighed, giving Kara a grim smile when her head jerked up to look at Lena in surprise, “I told Daisy we’d talk about it properly, but with everything going on ... I never had the chance. Christmas is only a week away; I think I should get it over and done with before then. There’s no time like the present.”

 

            “Oh ... okay,” Kara murmured, “let me know if you want me to come and help.”

 

            Knowing that she wouldn’t, Lena nodded, giving her a small smile. Slipping out of the room, Lena walked downstairs, sighing at the hastily dumped backpacks near the door, and made for the kitchen. Both girls were rifling through the cupboards, Daisy with her hair a wild mess, her shirtsleeves rolled up and tie loosened around her neck. The bruise on her cheek was vividly green in the kitchen lights, and Lena sighed as she hovered in the doorway. Lily still had her sweater on, but her school blazer was abandoned over the back of one of the stools, and her socks were unevenly pulled up.

 

            “How is it that you both come home looking like you’ve been starved all day and dragged through a bush backwards?” Lena asked as she walked into the kitchen. Both girls drew back with an armful of food each, and Lena walked over to them, plucking the boxes of muesli bars and trail mix out of the arms. “Dinner’s going to be soon; you’ll ruin your appetite.” She tossed them both muesli bars though, and a packet of chips each. “Come on, I want to talk to you both.”

 

            Rifling through one of the kitchen drawers, Lena pulled out a ring of keys, before straightening up and gesturing for both girls to follow. Apparently their curiosity got the better of them, and they followed behind without question, their footsteps echoing on the stairs as Lena led them up to the third floor. She walked down the hallway, taking a left towards Daisy’s room, and then a right, and stopped outside one of the doors along the long hallway. It hadn’t been opened in years, and she had to jam her shoulder against it, until the rusted hinges gave way with a creak. Opening the door, Lena stared into the bare, dusty room, and for a moment, she could envision the room it had been when all of her brother’s things were still in here - before she’d told Lillian to throw it all away - and her feet left prints in the dust as she stepped inside, coughing at the dust particles swirling through the air.

 

            “Is it weird to have never been in a room in my own house?” Daisy asked, confidently following Lena inside and peering around.

 

            “There’s plenty of rooms you’ve never been inside - this place is too big for us to need them,” Lena told her, “but this one’s always been locked for a reason.”

 

            Lily walked in, spinning around in a slow circle, before she looked at Lena, “why?”

 

            “This was my brother’s room,” Lena told them both, looking at the surprise flash across both of their faces in turn, “come on, sit down.”

 

            “Mom, it’s dusty as hell in here,” Daisy said, “I’m not sitting on the floor.”

 

            Sighing, Lena told them to wait there, before she went to fetch some old towels, spreading them down on the floor when she returned. “Now, sit,” she told them, sinking down to the ground as she spoke. Once both girls were sitting across from her, she gave them a hesitant smile, “now I said we’d talk about him some more, and I’ll try and answer what I can, but there’s some stuff I might not be able to talk about. I need you to understand that this isn’t something I’ve talked about much, or something I like to talk about.”

 

            Daisy let out a snort of laughter, “yeah, we know. It’s why it took your daughter getting into a fight for you to tell us.”

 

            Pressing her lips together into a thin line, Lena gave her daughter a curt nod. “Yes, well, I’m talking about it now. So, what do you want to know?”

 

            “Why’d he do it?” Daisy blurted our straight away.

 

            Lena let out a small groan, gesturing helplessly, “I don’t know, Dais, I never got the chance to ask him. To make a statement, I guess. We weren’t really … talking at this point, and he changed a lot leading up to it. He used to have all these big plans - and he was good with the company in the beginning - but then he kind of ... changed paths. I don’t know why.”

 

            “Why weren’t you talking to him?” Lily asked, her head tilted to the side in a way that made her look so much like Kara, that Lena couldn’t help but smile.

 

            “We wanted different things. I had a lot of ... other issues, and I was never really at home much, or in contact with him or grandma, so we kind of ... fell out,” Lena struggled to explain, “when I was your age, I got along with him great, but we were very different to each other, and when I got older, we grew apart.”

 

            “How many people did he kill?” Daisy asked.

 

            Slowly exhaling, Lena grimaced slightly, “twelve, and himself.”

 

            “Do you miss him?” Lily asked, a curious look on her face as she propped her chin up in her hand.

 

            “I used to,” Lena admitted, “at the beginning I missed my brother who used to play chess with me, and tell me about all the inventions he was going to make one day. I don’t really miss him anymore.”

 

            “Does grandma?”

 

            Lena opened and closed her mouth, struggling to find an answer, because that was Lillian’s business, but then her voice came from the doorway, startling the three girls. “Everyday.”

 

            “Mom, I-“ Lena started to say, but Lillian just stepped inside the room, looking around at the bare walls, and she knew that her mom was remembering how everything had been when Lex’s stuff had been in there. The whole room held so many memories to both women, and it was difficult to remember them and not feel a twinge of sadness, especially when they thought about the man that Lex could’ve been if he hadn’t gone off the rails.

 

            To Lena’s surprise, Lillian sank down onto the towel beside her, softly sighing as she looked around the room. “He was my baby boy, and he was smart – not as smart as your mom though – and he used to be so kind and loving, and I loved him so much. A part of him will always be the son I raised, but what he did was wrong and- it doesn’t matter how much I loved him, he still did it.”

 

            Daisy frowned slightly, “was he the reason why you and mom weren’t very close?”

 

            Both women laughed, sharing a quick look, before Lena gave her daughter’s a small smile, “your grandma and I never got on because of our own reasons. I was quite rebellious, and grandma used to spend more time with Lex. I was grandpa’s favourite, and he was always nice to me, but he wasn’t a very nice man, so grandma used to try and keep Lex away from him. I thought grandma didn’t love me as much as she loved Lex, but she was just trying to keep us both safe. Whenever she tried to be nice to me again, I wouldn’t let her, and we didn’t see much of each other for a few years.”

 

            “Your mom and I used to butt heads a lot, and she was very stubborn,” Lillian said, smiling slightly, “I wasn’t a very good mom, for a long while – you’re both lucky you have a good mom – and it wasn’t until she was older that we managed to fix things. Only a few years before you came along, Daisy.”

 

            “What made you decide to fix things?” Daisy asked.

 

            Lena let out a quick laugh, shrugging slightly as a warm smile curled her lips, “I met your mom.”

 

            Both girls’ eyebrows rose in surprise, and Lily straightened up slightly, “mom made you fix things?”

 

            “Mhm,” Lena said, “one day, I needed to get some photos of me when I was younger, so I could send them to your mom. Grandma made me get lunch with her so she could give them to me, and it wasn’t so bad, and we kind of worked through things. It took a long time, and we argued a lot, but I was the only family grandma had, for a while, and we didn’t want to lose each other again.”

 

            “Mom, grandma,” Lily hesitating said, looking at them both in turn, “you’re not going to lose each other now, are you?”

 

            Lena’s expression softened slightly, and she reached out so that Lily could put her hand in hers, and gave it a gentle squeeze, “no, baby, no one’s going anywhere.”

 

            “Mom?” Lily said again, a moment later.

 

            “Yeah, love?”

 

            “I hope we never argue like that.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena squeezed her hand again, “I hope not neither.”

 

            They spent a little while longer talking, while Lena and Lillian answered more questions about Lex and their family, trying to explain everything that had happened before they were born. It took a while, and Lena could see how painful some things were for Lillian to talk about, because those memories were stronger for her, but they muddled through it, until the girls’ curiosity was satisfied as best as it could be. Neither of them seemed angry or bitter at Lena for not telling them things sooner, and she was silently grateful for it, because she had enough on her plate without the girls acting out about that too. If anything, they seemed to be a little more subdued, both of them thinking about what they’d been told, and Lena assumed that they were trying to make their own assumptions from what they’d been told. She just hoped that when Kara told them her own story in the new year, she’d get a similar reaction from them, because finding out their mom had been presumed dead for two weeks was going to be a lot different than finding out a dead stranger, who they’d rarely heard about, had killed some people. As they filed out of the empty room, Lena decided to forgo locking it again – it seemed pointless when no one went in there anyway – and watched both girls head downstairs with Lillian, and silently prayed that things would be better from there on.

Chapter Text

            “Come on, we’re going to be late if we’re not out of here in five!” Lena called out, trying to get everyone to finish up their last minute adjustments. It was the annual L-Corp Christmas gala, and Lena was putting on a pair of Louboutin’s and applying another layer of lipstick in the kitchen, watching as Kara tried to hide the bruise ringing Daisy’s eye, while Lily fussed with her pleated skirt. Lillian was ready and sitting at the dinner table while she waited for everyone else, and Lena gave her an exasperated glance as she listened to Kara and Daisy bicker.

 

            “My mom was right; whoever said having boys was easier was right,” Kara sighed, “what is it about girls that takes us so long to get ready?”

 

            Lillian made a small sound of disapproval, “Lena used to do it on purpose to make me late.”

 

            “I’m a very flawed person,” Lena brusquely replied, “I’m well aware of how petty I can be.”

 

            “Tell me about it,” Kara snorted, “last time I told her she put too much garlic on the garlic prawns, she put garlic in everything for a week. It made me begin to wonder if vampires were onto something.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena let out a snort of laughter, “well don’t criticize my cooking then.”

 

            Laughing, Kara’s eyes crinkled at the corners and she glanced up at Lena, “the first time you cooked for me, you gave me uncooked chicken and I ate it without criticizing you once. If there was ever a time for me to criticize it, it was then.”

 

            “You’ve never let me live in down,” Lena grumbled, glowering at her wife as she pouted slightly. With another quick dab, and a wince off Daisy from the tenderness of the bruise, Kara deemed her fit to be out in public without looking like she’d been brawling, and kissed her dark head of curls.

 

            “Oo, one second, you need your sweater!” Kara said, beaming at Lena, who was wearing a starched white shirt tucked into black dress pants. She had known this was coming, and she gave Kara a bright smile as she watched her wife excitedly leave the kitchen.

 

            Daisy muffled a snort of laughter, and Lily tilted her head to the side, frowning slightly as she looked at Lena. “Mom, why do you always wear the ugly sweaters mom knits for you?”

 

            Lillian disguised her laugh with a cough, and Lena raised her eyebrows at her mom, pressing her lips together to stop herself from smiling. “The first Christmas your mom and I were together, she was in Afghanistan, and so she spent months knitting me a bright red sweater to wear to the Christmas gala. I looked like bloody Santa Claus, and it was completely humiliating, but she was so happy when I told her I’d wear it. For the past twenty-one years, she’s made one for me to wear every year, without fail..”

 

            “But they’re ugly as fu- hell,” Daisy said, a smile curling her lips as she arched an eyebrow at Lena.

 

            She couldn’t argue with her there, and Lena just gently sighed, “I know, but your mom spends ages knitting them for me, and it makes her happy, so I wear them for her.”

 

            “But you think they’re ugly too, right?” Daisy asked.

 

            “Oh god yes,” Lena laughed, “I’d never tell her that – and you better not too, if you know what’s good for you. I don’t care how ugly it is; it’s a tradition now, and I like to see the smile on her face when she thinks I like it.” At the sound of footsteps coming back downstairs, Lena lowered her voice, “okay, she’s coming back. Don’t mention how ugly it’s going to be.”

 

            A few moments later, Kara walked in with the sweater hidden behind her back, and she revealed it with a flourish. It was green this year – a bright bottle green – and had a snowman knitted on the front, with a shower of snowflakes falling around it. Daisy couldn’t stop herself from bursting into laughter, and Lily shot her a warning look, before smiling brightly at Kara. “Looks great, mom!”

 

            Walking over to Kara, Lena took it out of her hands and smiled – more in amusement, even though it genuinely made her happy to see how happy Kara was – and cupped Kara’s cheek, giving her a quick kiss and wiping away the smudge of red she left behind. “I love it,” Lena enthusiastically told her, which wasn’t entirely a lie, because she loved it because Kara had taken the time to patiently knit it for her. Daisy was right though - it was ugly as hell – but that didn’t stop Lena for slipping her arms through the sleeves and pulling the sweater on over her head. She let Kara fuss with the collar of her shirt, until it sat properly around the neck of the sweater, and Lena didn’t go and check her reflection in the mirror, knowing just how ridiculous she looked. It was the same every year, but she didn’t care what everyone at the company thought – she only cared what Kara thought, and Kara always told her she looked great.

 

            “Mm, very festive this year,” Lillian commented, a glint of amusement in her eyes, and Lena had to bite back a snarky comment, giving her mom a flattered smile instead.

 

            “Well, if everyone’s ready …” Lena said, trailing off as she gestured towards the door.

 

            “Wait!” Kara exclaimed, dashing over to the counter, where her cameras were already waiting, and picking up the polaroid first – it was always the polaroid first – and she smiled at Lena, “we have to take photos first.”

 

            Letting out a soft laugh, Lena gave Kara an endearing smile, “of course.”

 

            Ushering them out into the foyer of the mansion, they all took turns posing for the multitude of cameras, in different orders, and by the time they left, Lena knew for sure that they would be late, and apologized to the driver who had been outside waiting for them. By the time they pulled up outside L-Corp, the other guests were arriving – Lena usually liked to be there to greet them – and the reporters got excited at the prospect of snapping photos of Lena Luthor and her family. She’d never been able to shake her family’s last name, no matter how long she’d been married, and the press were always sniffing around them, which irritated Lena to no end. A part of her had been terrified with the girls growing up in that kind of environment, and they’d shielded them from it as much as possible, but sometimes it was inevitable, like at galas, and as Lena climbed out of the car, a scowl on her face as camera flashes blinded her, she gestured for everyone else to hurry up. A part of her had the urge to cross her arms over the front of the sweater, but she was too proud to be embarrassed, and she stubbornly raised her chin, as if she was waiting for someone to make fun of it so that she would have an excuse to pick a fight with them. Taking Kara’s hand in her own, she walked straight towards the doors of the building, glancing back at her kids and mom to make sure they were keeping up.

 

            They were inside a moment later, shucking off their coats and handing them over to coat check, and Lena gave them a grateful smile. It always seemed less of a big deal once she was inside the building, but those few moments of reporters shouting and camera flashes were always dizzying, and she glanced at Kara to make sure she was okay. Any loud noises or shouting were enough to trigger her when she was having a bad day – not just sounds that her mind interpreted as explosions – but she was fine, chatting to the woman stood at the coat check. Slowly breathing out, Lena forced herself to relax, and had the sudden urge for a glass of champagne to calm herself down, and knowing that she had to take it easy for her speech later on, which was only adding to her nerves.

 

            The five of them made for the doors leading into the area where the gala was already in swing, and Lena slowed down for a second, catching Daisy on the arm as she walked past with an eager look on her face. Smiling slightly – she knew that look well enough – Lena glanced up at her daughter and gave her a pointed look. “I’ll give you one warning before we go in; if a single drop of alcohol passes your lips, you’re grounded for the rest of the holidays,” Lena told her.

 

            Rolling her eyes and huffing, Daisy glanced inside at the party, “yeah, whatever.”

 

            “No, it’s not whatever, Dais. I mean it,” Lena sternly told her, “the press are here, and your mom and I will get into serious trouble if someone catches you drinking here. That goes for your cousin too, because god knows, you’ll drag her into it too.” Daisy grumbled something unintelligible, which Lena took as an agreement, and she turned around, stopping when she saw Lily standing there watching them with a curious look on her face. “And you’re only fourteen – I’d better not catch you within ten feet of any alcohol.”

 

            Lily laughed, walking over to her mom and looping her arm through Lena’s – she was too young for heels, so Lena was an inch taller than her for the night – and Lily smiled up at her, her blue eyes sparkling with amusement. “I think you’d be better off telling Daisy to stay ten feet away from it.”

 

            Bending down a little, Lena let out a quiet laugh, “I think you’re right.”

 

            They finally made it inside the party area, and Lillian immediately went to mingle with some people she knew from the business, and Lena sighed, knowing that getting her mom to sit down and rest while her stitches healed wasn’t going to happen. She’d already tried getting her to skip the event, but Lillian had bristled at the thought – she’d been to every single gala since she’d married Lionel, and she didn’t intent to skip one now. A gentle touch to her lower back broke Lena out of her thoughts, and she smiled at Kara, who was looking at someone across the room, trying to propel Lena towards them.

 

            “Let’s go and say hi to Sam,” Kara said, and Lena followed her line of sight to see her CFO talking to Alex and Maggie, “and Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, I guess.”

 

            Lena let out a snort of laughter and willing wound her way through the crowd, nodding to employees, and giving an occasional smile to ones she knew personally, and actually liked. Eventually they made it to the other side of the room, and Lena plucked two glasses of champagne off a passing tray, handing one off to Kara. Alex gave them an accusing look as they came to a stop in front of them, “you’re late.”

 

            “Traffic was murder,” Lena dryly replied, giving Alex an exasperated look that said that it was not in fact traffic that had made them late.

 

            “Nice sweater,” Sam said, giving Lena a quick hug, having already greeted Kara similarly, “the blue with the Christmas tree last year was nice, but the green really brings out your eyes.”

 

            “Oh god, you’re not trying to seduce her too are you?” Maggie snorted.

 

            “What?” Sam and Daisy asked at the same time.

 

            Quickly turning around, all of the adults looked at the two girls they’d forgotten had been trailing after them, and Lena cleared her throat, plastering a bright smile on her face as she looked at them, “why don’t you two go and find the other kids?”

 

            Scoffing, Daisy crossed her arms over her chest, “I’m not a kid, mom.”

 

            “Don’t slouch like that,” Lena gently chided her, “and you’re not an adult either. Go and find your cousin. Lils, Ruby’s around somewhere, why don’t you go and say hi?” Both girls turned around and walked off – one a little more eager than the other – and laughter came from behind her, and Lena gave Maggie a dark look, “nice one. Do you want to just outright tell my kids that their mom was almost caught in some extramarital activities?”

 

            “Sorry,” Maggie said, sweetly flashing her dimples.

 

            “I still feel like I’m missing something,” Sam said, frowning in confusion, “is this about Alana being fired?”

 

            “Well now that you mention it …” Maggie said, a slow grin spreading across her face.

 

            Lena shot her another pointed look, before turning to look at Sam, feeling her cheeks turn slightly pink, “she may or may not have … made a pass.”

 

            Choking slightly on the mouthful of champagne, Sam burst into laughter, looking at everyone’s faces in turn, “oh god, are you serious? She’s practically a child.”

 

            “Well, if you know anyone who’s looking to be an assistant, let me know,” Lena grumbled, taking a sip of her own drink. Kara bit back a smile, reaching out to run a hand down Lena’s arm, watching as the glowering expression softened into a much gentler smile as Lena melted beneath her touch.

 

            They fell into conversation for a few more minutes, before Lena and Sam both excused themselves so they could greet the other board members and other staff members. They chatted as they walked, and Lena was as relieved as ever to have Sam be her friend as well as her CFO, even though it was largely due to the fact that they spent so much time together because of their work. Filling her in on all of the things she hadn’t told her over the phone, Sam went over all of the statistics and plans she could remember off the top of her head, both of them keeping an eye out for Kara, who didn’t want Lena spending too much time fussing about work when she already had so much on her plate. Listening as Sam quickly summed everything up for her, Lena was relieved to hear that she’d been managing everything perfectly – not that she’d ever doubted her friend – and felt a little less concerned about how her company was being managed while she sat at home, complaining with Lillian, who was equally as concerned with her own business. She spotted her mom in the crowd, looking happy to be talking business with some old friends from when she’d been CEO, and Lena suspected that she was a little relieved at being allowed out of the house too. While they’d been getting along fine living under one roof, there had been moments where they’d had to swallow sharp remarks and their irritation, but it wasn’t as hard as Lena had expected it to be. Apparently they had grown as people over the past two decades, even if living with her mom did make Lena feel like a child again sometimes.

 

            Once business and niceties were out of the way, Lena gave a quick speech, thanking everyone for their hard work over the year, and then she was free to enjoy herself for the rest of the night. Everyone was enjoying themselves, with the endless stream of alcohol and food, and a string quartet playing soft music while people laughed and mingled, while a few people made a space in the middle of the room to dance. After a quick catch up with Gayle, who assured her that everything with CatCo was going as well as the reports she’d sent Lena suggested, Lena scanned the crowd for her wife, immediately spotting the dark green dress in the crowd. Lena would know her anywhere. Drifting over to where Kara was talking to one of the interns from the advertising department, Lena interrupted, politely introducing herself to the young guy, who was shaking at the fact the the CEO and owner was talking to him, and excused herself and Kara.

 

            “Something important?” Kara asked, a mild look of concern on her face as Lena plucked the half empty glass of champagne out of Kara’s hand and finished it for her, before setting it down on the tray of a passing server.

 

            Giving her a lopsided smile, Lena held her hand out for Kara’s, “yes, there’s dancing to be seen to.”

 

            Letting out a surprised laugh, Kara tilted her head to the side as she looked down at Lena, “but you hate dancing.”

 

            “I never hate it for you,” Lena corrected her, “if you like it, then I like it.”

 

            “Hm, really?” Kara asked, a knowing smile on her face as Lena led her into the middle of the couples dancing, before they fell into step with the music, “I never would’ve guesses that that’s why you let me get away with anything I want to. You spoil me too much.”

 

            Laughing, Lena wrinkled her nose slightly, “but it makes me happy. Besides, I don’t let you get away with everything … just most things.”

 

            “You know,” Kara softly sighed, pulling Lena closer, until her lips were just inches away from her ears as they danced, “sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky.” Lena scoffed, wincing slightly at all of the bad things, and thinking that perhaps Kara was lucky to be alive, but having to go through all of that in the first place didn’t make her lucky. “I do feel lucky, Lena,” Kara gently told her, “I know you don’t see it that way, what with everything … but I am. I have you, and my girls. I have a family who loves me, and I never have to ask for anything because you’re already there, giving it to me. What more could I want?”

 

            Sighing, Lena smiled as she rested her cheek on Kara’s shoulder and closed her eyes, “I don’t know, but if you think of something, can you tell me? I’m starting to run out of ideas for presents for you.”

 

            Kara snorted, tightening her grip around Lena’s waist as she squeezed her slightly, “what’d you get me this year? Two Aston Martin’s and an island?”

 

            “No, the island is for your birthday,” Lena laughed, “and two Aston Martin’s? I’d buy you at least four, so you have more colour options.”

 

            “I know you’re only joking, but it frightens me to think about what you would do if I genuinely asked for that,” Kara quietly laughed.

 

            Scoffing, Lena pulled back, arching an eyebrow at Kara as she looked up at her, “don’t be ridiculous. I’d obviously buy it for you.” Ducking down to kiss her on the cheek, Kara laughed, while Lena blushed slightly, aware of the fact that people would be looking at them, laughing like two kids in love as they teased each other. Looking up at the slightly flushed cheeks and bright blue eyes, Lena raised the hand on Kara’s shoulder to gently trail her fingertips across her cheekbone. “I love you,” Lena murmured, with a sudden flicker of panic welling up, as if she wasn’t sure that Kara knew just how much that she loved her. “So much.”

 

            “I know,” Kara smiled, resting her forehead against Lena’s, “you’ve never made me feel anything less. I hope you know how much I love you too.”

 

            “Darling, you might think you’re lucky,” Lena said, her lips curling up into a smile, “but I hit the jackpot.”

 

---

 

            The night went better than expected, with no major incidences, even though security had to escort out a few employees who had a bit too much to drink and got into a fight over some office dispute. The party had started winding down after that, with Lena shaking hands and wishing people a good Christmas as they left. In the back of the car, Lena let out a sigh of relief, glad that things had gone relatively smoothly, and Kara reached out to give her knee a reassuring squeeze, and Lena gave her a tired smile, before looking over at the two girls. Daisy was staring out the window, watching the streetlights pass, and Lily was half asleep, slumped against Lillian, who gently kept her semi-upright to stop her from falling forward.

 

            Coming to a stop outside the house, they all climbed out of the car, Lily grumbling as Lena guided her up the steps and into the warmth. Shrugging off her coat and kicking off her heels, Lena gave Kara a smile, gesturing towards Lily and holding up a finger. Nodding, Kara said goodnight to both girls, before she took off her own coat, and turned to Lillian to ask if she’d like some tea before bed. Daisy went upstairs ahead of Lena, already on her way to her room, and Lena put a hand on Lily’s shoulder, leading her over to the stairs. Slowly making their way up to the third floor, Lily opened her bedroom door and dragged her feet as she shuffled inside, yawning widely.

 

            “Tired?” Lena quietly asked, smiling lovingly as she watched her daughter fumble in her drawers for her pyjamas.

 

            Nodding, Lily mumbled in agreement, unbuttoning her shirt. Lena went over to the bed and pulled the covers back, taking some small comfort in the fact that she still had one daughter who let her look after her. She’d tried to stop babying Lily so much once she’d almost hit the same height as Lena, thinking that she was too old for that now, but she’d only been twelve, and it had been almost jarring to Lena when Lily had been confused about why her and Kara stopped checking on her when she went to bed, or even stopped occasionally tucking her in. Lena had forgotten that just because Lily was going to be tall, she was still young, and she had been relieved that she could still be a mom for a little while longer. A moment later, Lena felt a hand on her arm, and looked up, giving Lily a soft smile and brushing her curls back, before kissing her on the forehead. Walking over to the door, she waited until Lily was tucked into bed, and smiled.

 

            “Goodnight, sweetheart,” Lena murmured, switching the light off.

 

            “Goodnight, mom,” Lily whispered, before pausing slightly, “and for the record, I like the sweaters mom makes for you.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena shook her head, “yeah, me too. Night.”

 

            She shut the door with a soft click, and hesitated before walking down the hallway and knocking on Daisy’s door. She could hear the soft sound of music drifting through the door, and a moment later it was yanked open to reveal a disgruntled looking Daisy, her blue eyes stormy beneath heavy brows, and the bruise around her eye making her look a little moodier. Lena wouldn’t have laughed if she’d thought her daughter was in a mood, but then she saw the owl patterned pyjama pants that Daisy was wearing and let out a quick laugh.

 

            “Nice pants,” Lena said, “can I come in?”

 

            “Nice sweater,” Daisy replied, cracking a smile as she reached out to poke the orange nose on the snowman, before turning around and walking back over to her bed, flopping down onto her back and closing her eyes.

 

            Stepping inside, Lena shut the door behind her and walked over to the bed, jostling the mattress as she sat down. Looking down at her daughter, she quietly chuckled as she watched Daisy frown as she tried to blow a lock of hair out of her face. Reaching out, Lena brushed the stray curl aside, before softly sighing, “is everything okay?”

 

            “Yeah,” Daisy wearily replied, as if she had the world on her shoulders.

 

            “What’s bothering you, love?” Lena asked, her voice full of concern, “you’ve been quiet all night.”

 

            Sighing, Daisy shrugged, her eyelashes fluttering slightly, as if she was debating whether or not to look at Lena as she spoke to her, “I just didn’t feel like talking.”

 

            Having two very different daughters was frustrating sometimes, and Lena would worry about one of them for not behaving like the other one, or she’d sometimes expect them both to like the same thing, even though just because Lily liked soccer, it didn’t mean that Daisy wanted to go to a game whenever Lena was given tickets by an associate. Just because Lily was talkative all the time – a trait she’d inherited from Kara – it didn’t mean that there was anything wrong with Daisy for not talking all the time. Sometimes Lena worried that her silence meant that she was keeping something from her though, and sometimes Daisy was unreadable. She was so tightlipped sometimes, that Lena wouldn’t have known she’d gotten detention again if Lily didn’t come home and say something, or that she’d been presented with an academic award at a school assembly.

 

            “Is that all that’s bothering you?” Lena gently prompted her, knowing that if something was bothering her, she’d tell her when she felt ready.

 

            There had always been an unspoken agreement in the house that the girls could share whatever they wanted with Lena and Kara, and whenever they wanted to, without feeling like they were going to get into trouble or be judged by their parents. Lena knew firsthand how hard it could be having a strict mom, and while she tried to be clear with what was okay and what wasn’t, she was a very different mom to how Lillian had been to her. Her and Kara both favoured Eliza’s more lighthearted and kind approach to raising the girls, with a large emphasis on doing things as a family. Part of that was because Lena wanted to give them what she’d never had, and because she didn’t want the girls to feel distant from her and Kara. Growing up without a mom was hard, and it hurt to think that Lena had a mom growing up, but she just wasn’t close to her. She didn’t want that for her girls.

 

            “Yeah, why?” Daisy asked, her eyes flying open as she pushed herself up onto her elbows, “is there something I should be worried about?”

 

            Lena smiled at her, wrinkling her nose slightly, “only about being good for a few more days, before Santa brings you coal for Christmas.”

 

            Snorting, Daisy rolled her eyes as she flopped back down onto the bed, a smile playing on her lips, “please, I haven’t believed in Santa since I was nine.”

 

            “Uh, no, we took you to the north pole when you were eleven and you still didn’t know then,” Lena said, thinking about the trip her and Kara had taken to a place in Alaska that was modeled after Santa’s workshop and had real reindeers and everything.

 

            Raising her eyebrows, Daisy’s smile grew wider, “yeah, but I knew Santa wasn’t real then.”

 

            Lena’s mouth fell open in surprise, and she spluttered slightly, “why didn’t you tell me and your mom that you knew Santa wasn’t real?”

 

            “It made you happy,” Daisy laughed, “besides, Lily didn’t know, and that would’ve been a dick move.”

 

            “Oh Daisy, you’re something else,” Lena laughed, reaching out and poking her daughter in the ribs, laughing as she watched her wriggle away, laughing as she curled in on herself.

 

            “Stop, stop, stop,” Daisy breathlessly laughed, trying to roll away from her mom.

 

            Laughing, Lena stopped, and Daisy struggled upright, her cheeks flushed and the laugh lingering on her lips. Sighing, Lena gave her a loving smile and wrapped her arms around Daisy, kissing the side of her head as she rubbed her hand up and down Daisy’s arm. “Thanks for not spoiling mine and your mom’s fun,” Lena murmured.

 

            “Anytime,” Daisy laughed, her arms winding around Lena’s waist as she hugged her back, resting her head on Lena’s shoulder. “Thanks, mom.”

 

            “What for?”

 

            “I don’t know,” Daisy said, her shoulders shrugging against Lena’s, “everything, I suppose.”

 

            “I love you more than you can imagine,” Lena murmured, “never forget that.”

 

            Pulling back, Daisy gave her a half-smile, running a hand through her messy curls, “I won’t.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Lena leant down to plant a kiss on the top of her head, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, “you can listen to your music for a little while longer, but then it’s time for bed, okay?”

 

            Nodding, Daisy climbed to the top of the bed, reaching for a book that lay abandoned on her nightstand, “night, mom.”

 

            “Goodnight, honey,” Lena murmured, shutting the door behind her.

 

            Walking down to the second floor, she passed by Lillian and said goodnight, and then saw Kara coming upstairs with two cups of tea in hand. Passing by the top of the stairs, Lena continued on to her bedroom, opening the door and turning around. Kara walking in behind her, gingerly carrying two cups of tea, and she looked up in surprise when Lena plucked both cups out of her hands, setting them down on the dresser, and kicked the door shut. Then she pressed Kara up against it with a soft thud, standing on her tiptoes as she pressed a hard kiss to her lips. Kara reacted instantly, twining her fingers in Lena’s hair and pushing her backwards. Stumbling, they fell onto the bed, and Lena couldn’t stop the small laugh that escaped her as Kara kissed her neck. “Fuck, I love you,” she breathlessly told her, and Kara pulled back, giving her an adoring smile that lit up her blue eyes, before she slowly leant down and kissed Lena, putting all of her love into it.

Chapter Text

            It was still dark, and Lena was sitting alone in her study, a pen clutched in hand and a look of concentration on her face as she stared down at the paper in front of her, rereading what she already had.

 

 

            Dear Kara,

 

            Merry Christmas darling. I know the holidays always mean so much to you, and I hope this year it’s just as special, even with everything that’s going on. We’ve got everyone together, so I know that’s what’s really important to you, and I hope you know how important that is to me too. Every Christmas, I’m so grateful to you for giving me this family - I don’t think I could imagine my life without any of you in it. I couldn’t imagine my life without you.

 

            Do you remember Daisy’s first Christmas? She was the first grandchild and was spoilt rotten by us all - I don’t think we could even walk through the living room without stepping on a present, and she only wanted to play with the boxes. I never really understood why people love Christmas so much until I met you, and your family showed me what it was like to spend the holidays being happy as a family, but having a kid to spoil taught me more about how that feels. Sometimes I miss them being little, when they didn’t know that Santa wasn’t real, and I’d make them leave twelve cookies out for him, just to watch your face light up when you got to eat them all. I know they’re not too old yet that Christmas doesn’t still feel magical, so I really hope we can make things feel as special as always. We’ll just slip Maggie a few extra drinks and have her keep the ball rolling if things start getting depressing, seeing as she likes to think she’s the fun one.

 

            It doesn’t matter how we spend our Christmas though, because I’ll be spending it with you, and that’s something that I’ll never take for granted. Despite everything, each moment with you is a moment I cherish more dearly than any gift, because that in itself is a gift. I hope you know that I truly do cherish it all - the arguments, the kisses, the photographs. Each time you fill up an album, it makes me feel like we’ve come so far, and we haven’t wasted a moment of that time together. I know that one day, we’ll be so grateful for all of the photos in them, especially when we can’t remember those memories on our own. I hope you take lots of pictures today, so that you can add them to the albums too. I hope we have a Christmas that’s wonderful enough to warrant remembering - no, I know we will. Every moment with you is worth remembering, even the bad ones, and we’ve been lucky enough to only have a few of them.

 

            God we’ve been lucky - I’ve been lucky - and I’m so thankful for everything you give me everyday. I don’t know what it is about Christmas - maybe it’s because it’s the only uninterrupted time longer than a couple of days that we all get to spend together - but it makes me more appreciative of what you’ve given me. Who I was before I met you seems so far away from who I am now, and I know that it’s because I met you. What a stroke of luck that was, and how you changed my life so much with one cup of coffee. You’ve continued to change my life everyday since then, and I know that you’ll make today as special as always. It’s one of the many, many things I love about you, and I don’t know if I tell you that enough, but your unwavering happiness and your big heart is still the same as the day we met. Some things never change, like Christmas sweaters and peppermint hot chocolate, but some things do, like getting to spend every holiday with you, which was such a relief after missing so much our first year together. One thing that has never changed though is how much I love you. Not a single day has passed by where I don’t think about loving you, and I know that I never will.

 

            Merry Christmas, my love. I can’t wait for another day of snowball fights in our pyjamas and photographs of all the special things. I can’t wait for another day of loving you with my whole heart, and making the most of our time as a family.

 

            Yours forever,

            Lena xxx

 

 

            Happy with what she’d written, Lena carefully folded the letter and put it into an envelope, tucking the flap inside and then writing Kara’s name on the front with a flourish. Spinning around in her chair, she looked out the window, staring at the frozen stretch of grass behind the house, before it reached the small maze, which looked like walls of ice from all of the snow covering it. The sky was a hazy blue on the horizon, making the skeletal trees slightly visible as she stared outside, thinking deeply about things. She felt nervous about the day, and the feeling had been growing over the past week, and the reason why was so glaringly obvious; what if this was Lillian’s last Christmas? Her mom was going to start her treatment in a few days, with her healing well after her surgery, and Lena couldn’t help but feel scared. Lena didn’t want Christmas to be any different than usual, but there was also the fear that it might be the last time they were all together again for it, and she let out a shaky breath as she watched a flurry of snow pelt the window, leaving dark shadowy dots on the glass.

 

            The sound of the door opening caught her attention, and Lena turned her chair around, smiling softly when she saw Kara poking her head inside. “Merry Christmas,” Lena quietly told her, holding her arms open as Kara stepped inside and shut the door behind her.

 

            “Merry Christmas,” Kara said crossing over to her and dropping in her lap, wrapping her arms around Lena’s neck as she looked down at her, “you’re up early.”

 

            Reaching forward, Lena plucked the letter off the desk and held it up, a small smile playing on her lips as she looked up at Kara. As she reached out for the letter, Lena pulled it out of her reach, her smile growing wider, and Kara let out a quiet laugh. “It’s for later,” Lena sternly told her.

 

            Pouting slightly, Kara leant down, cupping Lena’s chin in her hand and tilting her head back, before she gave her a quick kiss. “You look tired,” Kara said, pulling back and caressing Lena’s face, and her fingertips gently grazing the bags under her eyes.

 

            “Mm, couldn’t sleep,” Lena murmured, her eyelids fluttering closed as she leant back in the chair.

 

            “It’s okay to be worried about her,” Kara quietly told her, “and me. It would be stupid to tell you not to be. You need to take care of yourself though, for me and your mom. We don’t want to be worried about you as well; it’s no good if we’re all worrying.”

 

            Sighing, Lena opened her eyes, giving Kara a concerned look as she frowned slightly, “I don’t want you to be worried about me.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Kara ducked her head and stole another kiss, before she pulled back and gave Lena a serious look. “I do worry though - of course I worry - and there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” Kara said, a hesitant, sheepish expression on her face.

 

            “What is it?” Lena warily asked.

 

            “You haven’t slept properly in a good month,” Kara said, and when Lena opened her mouth to protest, Kara gave her a stern look, which shut her up, “I was talking with Eliza, and my mom thinks it’s a good idea for you to go back on your sleeping pills.”

 

            Lena scoffed, shaking her head as she smiled slightly, “are you serious? I haven’t been on them in, what ... fifteen years?”

 

            “And I hadn’t been to therapy in eleven,” Kara gently told her, trying to delicately manoeuver the conversation away from an argument, “and you were right, it was a good idea for me to go and talk to someone. Maybe you’d prefer therapy too - I don’t know - but I also know you haven’t slept all night, and you didn’t sleep much the night before, or the-“

 

            “Okay, okay,” Lena interjected, “yes, you’re right, I haven’t been sleeping much. That doesn’t mean I need medication to help me sleep; I’ll be fine, Kara. I promise you.”

 

            “I know you’ll be fine,” Kara murmured, frowning slightly as she looked down at her lap, “I just- I want to be able to help you the way that you help me.”

 

            Lena gently rubbed Kara’s back, quietly laughing as she let her forehead rest against Kara’s arm, “you help me all the time, more than you know, just by being here. I couldn’t do any of this without you. I’ve messed up so much in my life, but I did one thing right.”

 

            “Mm? What was that?” Kara mumbled.

 

            Looking up into blue eyes, Lena’s face softened as she reached up and pushed Kara’s glasses up her nose, “I fell in love with you.”

 

            Kara laughed, resting her forehead against Lena’s and closing her eyes, “well I’m glad I’m not one of your regrets.”

 

            A surprised laugh fell from Lena’s lips, and she tightened her grip around Kara’s waist, “I’ve never regretted a single moment.”

 

            “What about that time we went to the pier and I made you eat three corn dogs before going on the teacups and you vomited everywhere?” Kara laughed.

 

            “I’ve regretted one moment,” Lena corrected herself, shaking with laughter, “now, how about ... peppermint hot chocolate to start off the morning?” The sky was getting lighter, the pale wintery sky leaching the brilliance from the usually colourful sunrise, leaving only pale streaks of orange on the horizon and the darkness lifted, giving way to a white sky.

 

            Standing up, Kara gave her a loving smile, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she helped pull Lena to her feet, “you sure know the way to my heart.”

 

            Setting the letter down on the desk, Lena reached out and cupped Kara’s face in her warm hands, giving her two soft kisses, “I know, and I also know that your sister is going to be up any minute, screaming the house down about Christmas, if you don’t get the kids out of bed.”

 

            “Maybe this year, they’ll wake her up,” Kara snorted, rolling her eyes and reaching out for Lena’s hand, “but first, let’s shower before we get swept up in presents.”

 

            Lena groaned slightly, thinking about how nice a hot shower would be, especially with the chill that pervaded the whole house when the heating hadn’t been turned on yet. Padding barefoot back to their bedroom, they quickly undressed and jumped under the hot water, letting it relax their stiff muscles and warm them up. Lena could’ve stayed in the shower with Kara forever, despite how vigilant she still was about the environment, but a few minutes later, there was a knock on the door.

 

            “You two lovebirds better not be defiling the holy day of giving me nice, expensive gifts by getting it on at this ungodly hour,” Alex’s voice drifted through the door.

 

            “Fuck off, Alex,” Lena grumbled, loud enough for the other woman to hear her outside, and she let out a yelp as Kara poked her in the ribs, right where she was ticklish.

 

            “Fine! But you’re going to have to explain to your kids why they have to wait to open their presents,” Alex called back, her voice receding as she walked out of bedroom.

 

            Lena gave Kara a dour look, “you know, it wouldn’t be so bad if we were actually having sex right now, but we’re being ousted from the hot water, which feels even crueler right now.”

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Kara kissed the side of Lena’s neck, making her wife squirm at the ticklish feeling of her soft lips brushing against her skin, before the water shut off and plunged them into coldness. Giving her an apologetic look, Kara stepped out onto the cool tiles, wincing as she quickly fetched two towels, handing one to Lena and stealing a quick kiss. They quickly dressed back in their pyjamas, with Lena picked one of the twenty-one Christmas sweaters that Kara had knitted for her over the years to wear over the top, picking one of the less ugly ones, because they were comfortable at least, and she loved the way that Kara’s face lit up when she saw Lena willingly pulling one on.

 

            Dressed and ready for the day, they walked out into the hallway, listening to the excited shouts - some from the kids, and some from Alex and Maggie - and followed the sound, sharing smiles with each other that showed how excited they really were. They made it downstairs, where Eliza was already making peppermint hot chocolate as she chatted to Lillian, who was rubbing the belly of a very excited Dalmatian wearing a reindeer costume. Three excited teenagers filled the room with an almost tangible excitement, and Alex and Maggie were a little twitchy as they waited for Kara and Lena to get downstairs.

 

            Poking her head into the kitchen, Kara smiled brightly, “what, you don’t want to open your presents?”

 

            Maggie muttered a curse about how it was them they’d been waiting for, and Lena breezed into the kitchen, “merry Christmas.”

 

            “Merry Christmas, honey,” Eliza smiled at her, pressing a cup into her hand, before distributing the others out, until everyone had their drinks, and the bright eyed kids were all racing to the larger sitting room, with shouts from Kara about making sure they didn’t spill their drinks.

 

            The fire was going in the sitting room, with a stocking for each of them perfectly hanging above it. The Christmas tree lights had been turned on, and the room was warm and cozy as the adults sat down on the sofas, watching as the three girls found their own piles of presents and began to open them all. Everyone else’s’ were under the tree, but they always waited until afterwards, because they all loved to see how excited the girls were when they opened their presents, and Kara had to take lots of photos, of course. Drinking hot chocolate, they commented on gifts, smiling and laughing at the reactions the girls gave when they were particularly excited about something, while Kara’s cameras flashed away, and she was soon surrounded by white rectangles.

 

            Towards the end of the piles of presents, Daisy opened one with a set of camouflaged overalls and a stack of pamphlets, frowning in confusion as she glanced down at the one on top. “What’s this?”

 

            “Cadets,” Lena curtly replied, a slightly smug smile on her face as she looked at her daughter, “you want to join the army, so you should know what it’s like before you sign up. Starting once the school terms starts again, you’ll be able to start going. Every Saturday at eight o’clock.”

 

            “Saturday,” Daisy spluttered, “at eight? Like, in the morning?”

 

            “What’s wrong, you don’t want to go?” Lena asked, arching an eyebrow as her smile grew slightly bigger.

 

            Huffing, Daisy tossed the pamphlets aside and scowled, flushing slightly pink as she found herself lacking a good enough retort to Lena’s smug comment, because she was right. Getting up early every Saturday, after a week of school, didn’t sound very fun. Casting a look at Kara, they both shared a triumphant look, hoping that Lena’s idea would work, and Daisy would drop the idea of enlisting, but Lena had the sneaking suspicion that by tricking Daisy into going to cadets, they had just fuelled her stubbornness and determination to go through with it. It was what Lena would’ve done.

 

            Once the girls were all finished, Lena started cramming the gift wrap into a rubbish bag for recycling, sighing when Artemis went bounding through it, tearing the paper to shreds while she wagged her tail. Shaking her head, Lena smiled, giving the dog a quick scratch under her chin, while she watched Kara dole out everyone else’s presents, and the girls made the rounds, thanking everyone for the gifts. Bending down to pick up a piece of reindeer patterned red paper, Lena looked up as a pair of feet stopped before her, and she straightened up, smiling at Daisy. Her daughter hugged her, and Lena wrapped one arm around her, the other one holding the garbage bag, kissing her on the cheek. “Thanks mom,” Daisy quietly said.

 

            “You’re welcome, love,” Lena said, smiling as she pulled back and reached up to give her daughter’s cheek and affectionate pat, “did you get everything you wanted?”

 

            “Mhm, thank you,” Daisy said, her face lighting up excitedly.

 

            Kara laughed, “are you sure you did?”

 

            “Yeah, why?” Daisy asked, frowning slightly in confusion. Lena laughed as she watched Kara fish a pair of keys out of the pocket of her pyjamas and toss them to Daisy, whose mouth fell open in surprise. “No way, you got me my own car?”

 

            Lena arched an eyebrow slightly, smiling as her daughter wrapped her in another hug, thanking her profusely, before she went over to Kara, almost tripping over her feet in her excitement. Carter dragged her by the elbow, with Lily close behind, all three of them rushing to see what kind of car was sitting in the garage waiting for her, and Kara and Lena shared another smug look. Maggie appeared at Lena’s elbow, shaking her head as she looked at the door which her daughter had just left through, “I can’t believe you got her a fucking Ferrari for her first car.”

 

            “Lena got a Maserati for hers,” Lillian chimed in, “and I tried to convince her to get Daisy a Bugatti, but well …”

 

            “She doesn’t need a million-dollar car for her first one,” Lena reasonably replied.

 

            “Then why’d you get her a Ferrari?” Maggie asked, leaning closer and giving her a smug smile that showed off her dimples.

 

            Lena snorted, giving her a gentle shove, “okay, don’t act like you won’t be taking it for a joyride later on, like you do with all of my cars, I might add.”

 

            “Well yeah, of course I am,” Maggie scoffed, “I’m not an idiot.”

 

            Shaking her head, Lena smiled as she walked over to her own pile of gifts, neatly arranged by Kara, and sat down to open her own gifts. It wasn’t long before three rosy cheeked girls, shivering and covered in a fine layer of snow had come back in, and Lena didn’t care how ridiculous it was to buy a seventeen-year-old a ridiculously expensive car, because the happy look on Daisy’s face was worth it. Once everyone had finished with the last of their gifts, Lena gave Kara a quick kiss, and her mom and Eliza hugs, subtly flipping Maggie off when she mockingly pursed her lips for a kiss, and then Kara was ushering everyone into the kitchen for breakfast.

 

            It was chaos in the kitchen, which was overly large and extravagant, considering who owned the place, but seemed cramped with the loud bickering and laughter and conversations going on as everyone maneuvered their way through the kitchen, fetching plates, pulling milk out of the fridge, and grabbed bread from the cupboard. Toast was burnt, eggs were accidentally broken, and Kara spilt coffee down the front of her sweater, but eventually, they were all seated in the dining room, which was rarely used unless it was a special occasion. They were all clustered around one end of the ridiculously long table, passing butter and maple syrup, and digging into the pancakes, slyly feeding the dog sausages and bacon under the table, and chatting as they drank tea and juice. Halfway through eating, Lena saw the mild look of amusement on Lillian’s face as she watched everyone, and Lena tilted her head to the side, observing her mom, until Lillian’s gaze landed on her and she blinked in surprise, giving Lena a wide smile.

 

            “What’s wrong?” Lillian asked, taking in the slightly perturbed look on Lena’s face.

 

            “Nothing, you were just staring very intently,” Lena said. Shrugging, Lillian cleared her throat slightly as she scooped up some of her scrambled eggs and took a bite, and Lena narrowed her eyes slightly, “what is it?”

 

            Sighing, Lillian set her fork down and reached for her coffee as she looked at her daughter, “I was just … appreciating things.”

 

            “Nope, not today, mom,” Lena curtly replied, “and not at breakfast.”

 

            “Oh don’t be so dramatic, Lena,” Lillian sighed, “I’m just enjoying being with my family, that’s all. It has nothing to do with … well I wouldn’t want to say it or you might bite my head off.”

 

            “Whatever,” Lena huffed, shoving a piece of toast into her mouth and coughing as she tried to swallow without chewing. She glowered as Maggie shot her an amused look that let Lena know that a sarcastic remark was about to come her way, but it died on the tip of her tongue at the dark look. No one else paid her any attention, except Kara, who nudged her under the table with her foot and gave her a questioning look, which Lena chose to ignore.

 

            Afterwards, the girls begged them to go outside for a snowball fight, and Eliza ushered them all outside, ensuring Lena that she would keep Lillian company and clean up after breakfast. Pulling on puffy winter coats and snow boots, everyone went out to the back yard, and of course the first snowball was thrown by Maggie, and of course Lena was the target. After that, all hell broke loose, and there was snow flying everywhere while squeals of laughter and curses at the feeling of snow melting against warm skin and cold water snaking down the backs of their necks. By the time they were finished, they were breathless and exhausted, and Lena was laying on her back in the snow, arms and legs spread out, while Kara loomed over her with a camera raised to her eye as she smiled. Red cheeked and bright eyed, Lena smiled for her, and let Kara help her to her feet after a polaroid printed out, and Lena gave her cold, chapped lips a quick kiss, before dusting some snow off the front of her coat. The girls were all complaining about how cold they were when they all went back into the house, stomping their feet to get the last of the snow off them, and rubbing their frozen hands together to get some warmth back into them, and Lena sent them upstairs to shower and dress.

 

            The rest of the morning, and most of the afternoon was spent lounging around the house, with Daisy, Lily and Carter left to play with their presents, while the adults rotated between relaxing in the living room, getting roped into playing board games with the girls, or helping cook dinner in the kitchen. Luckily, any disasters were avoided, and by the time it was dark outside, they were all sitting at the dinner table once more, colourful party hats from the Christmas crackers adorning their heads, while they all scooped a variety of vegetables and meats onto their plates, reading out the cheesy jokes and playing with the cheap toys that came in the crackers. The food was delicious, and every one was too stuffed to move way before the plates were empty, and everything was packed away for leftovers the next day, and they all made their way to the living room to relax. With the warmth of the fire, and the comforting smell of pine needles from the Christmas tree, they all sat around the room, lolling around until Kara eagerly suggested that they play charades. Lena and Alex groaned in unison, sharing an exasperated look, and Kara laughed, leaning over to kiss Lena on the cheek before she went to find the stuff for it. She wandered back in a few minutes later with a notepad, a pen and a glass - they took the game very seriously these days, and she quickly wrote half of their names down on scraps of paper and put them in the glass. They’d long since learnt that people cheated - usually Kara - and they all argued too much, so they had to start randomising the teams.

 

            Lena drew Maggie’s name and let out a loud groan, Kara drew Lillian’s, Alex got paired with Daisy, which left Lily, Eliza and Carter together. And then the game started. They all accused Kara of cheating, as usual, because she talked way too much, Lena and Maggie bickered nonstop, and Alex and Daisy were winning this round so far.

 

            “Movie,” Lena said, watching as Maggie did the motions. “Two words. First word.” She watched as Maggie crossed her forearms, and frowned in confusion. “X. X-Men? Project X? X ... x, I don’t know. What begins with an x? Okay, second word.”

 

            Maggie started gesturing to herself, and Lena frowned as she sipped her wine, trying to figure out what the vague gesture meant, until Maggie’s patience wore thin. “How are you that stupid? It’s fucking Wonder Woman! Jesus Christ, next time just put me on a team with Kara; she might cheat but at least she knows the bloody answers.”

 

            “Well excuse the shit out of me,” Lena sarcastically replied, “I didn’t realise the word wonder was explained with an x.”

 

            “That’s literally her pose!” Maggie exclaimed, doing it again, while Alex snorted with laughter, and Eliza put her head in her hands - just once, she’d like a game night with no bickering - but it wasn’t that night. “Literally everyone knows that’s her pose!”

 

            “Moving on!” Alex loudly interrupted, “Daisy, let’s show them how it’s done.” Alex walked to the clear space in front of the fire, a smug look on her face as she looked at their assembled family. “Okay, for the winning round, here we go ...”

 

            She started going through the motions while Daisy called out answers, her eyes darting over to the timer every few seconds. It was a few moments before she jumped to her feet, yelling, “ghost busters!”

 

            “Yes!” Alex shouted, throwing her hands up as she smiled triumphantly, “yes! That’s my girl! Come here!”

 

            They all laughed as Daisy picked her up slightly when Alex wrapped her in a hug, being the tallest out of everyone else in the family, and they both took smug bows, stirring up trouble as they obnoxiously wound everyone up about losing. Which led to Kara pulling the monopoly board out, while Eliza and Lillian both sighed in exasperation. They ate dessert while they played, taking bites of Black Forest gâteau in between rolls of the dice, and Kara finished off Lena’s piece, mumbling about how good it was around mouthfuls of cherry jam and rich chocolate.

 

            By the time they finished, they were all feeling tired after a long day full of excitement, laying on the sofas and listening to Daisy play Christmas carols on the piano, while Kara, Alex and Carter sang along, all out of time with each other, but it was no less entertaining for it. Lily snapped photos on Kara’s camera, and Lena was leaning against Eliza’s legs, laughing as she watched them sing, shaking her head at how bad it was. A little while longer, and they were all almost falling asleep, and Lillian ushered the three girl’s upstairs, wishing everyone goodnight, doling our hugs and kisses on cheeks, and thank you’s. Soon it was just Kara and Lena awake, having waved away Alex and Maggie’s help to load the last of the dishes into the dishwasher, and they were yawning and grumbling as they clinked glasses together, sluggishly filling the machine and putting it on.

 

            “Come here,” Kara murmured, reaching out for Lena and wrapping her arms around her waist. Lena rested her head on Kara’s shoulder, her arms around her neck and her eyes closing in the comforting feeling of her wife’s embrace. She could faintly hear her heart beating steadily, and feel the rise and fall of her chest pressed up against her own, and Lena smiled slightly.

 

            “I love you,” she sighed.

 

            “Yeah?” Kara quietly laughed, “it’s a good thing I love you too.”

 

            Swallowing the lump that rose in her throat, Lena pulled back and glanced up at Kara, taking in the soft blue eyes that were looking at her so tenderly, and she couldn’t stop herself from gently tracing the outline of her lips with a fingertip, and stealing a kiss. “Are you happy?”

 

            Kara blinked in surprise, giving her a confused look as she laughed slightly, “of course I am. Today was great.”

 

            “No, I know,” Lena said, feeling slightly tongue tied, “but are you happy.”

 

            “That’s a loaded question,” Kara said, leaning down to kiss Lena on the check, and mumbling against her skin, “I have a great job, and a loving family. I’ve got an amazing wife and two beautiful children. I have a lot of reasons to be happy.”

 

            “What about unhappy?” Lena asked.

 

            Kara pulled back slightly, a look of concern on her face as she reached out and brushed Lena’s hair out of her face, “is everything okay? Where’s this coming from?”

 

            Shrugging, Lena sighed, “I don’t know. I just want to know that I make you happy.”

 

            Taking Lena’s face in her hands, Kara crushed her lips down onto Lena’s, taking her by surprise, before pulling back and bringing their foreheads together. Lena’s eyelids fluttered closed, and she leant into Kara’s touch, craving the gentleness of the way she held her. “There’s nothing in the world that could make me feel unhappy, when how happy you make me is enough to eclipse that.”

 

            “Okay, good,” Lena murmured, “you make me that happy too. I just- I know I’m stubborn, and I know you want to help me ... if your mom brought the sleeping pills, I can- I’ll take them.”

 

            “No, no, honey, come on, you don’t have to take them because I think that you should,” Kara quickly assured her, gently caressing Lena’s cheek, “I just want you to look after yourself.”

 

            “I’m so tired, Kara,” Lena wearily told her, her shoulders sagging slightly in relief at her admittance, “and my mom- I don’t know if I can keep going at the rate that  I am. I just want everything to be okay; I just need to know that we’re okay, and that everything fine, and then I can- I can pretend that she’ll be okay too. I just need-“

 

            “Hey, it’s okay,” Kara gently told her, wrapping her in a hug, “you’re not alone in this. You have a big family, and we’re all going to make sure she’s okay, and you don’t have to keep doing this alone. What do you need? Just tell me what you need- what I can give you.”

 

            Lena let out a shaky breath, “I just need to sleep, and I need you to hold me and tell me it’ll be okay.”

 

            “Then let’s go to bed,” Kara said, pulling away from her and walking over to a cupboard. Rifling through the contents of it, she pulled a little bottle from the back of it and set it down on the counter, while Lena looked at the little pills inside. “They’re here if you want them, and it’s okay if you don’t. I’ll be there in the morning, and I won’t let you go.”

 

            Nodding, Lena instantly picked up the bottle, shook out two little pills and held them in the palm of her hand. While she stared at them, Kara poured her a glass of water and held it out to her, her lips brushing against Lena’s forehead in a soft kiss. Without hesitation, Lena swallowed the pills and drained the glass of water, setting it in the sink and twining her fingers with Kara’s. Flicking the lights off as they went, they stumbled upstairs and fell into bed with small groans of relief as their aching muscles relaxed. It had been a long day, and even though it had been fun, it had been draining. Lena was grateful for the pills, because it wasn’t long before she was drifting off to sleep, listening to Kara whisper as she read the letter Lena had written out loud, followed by the one she’d written for Lena, and the gentle lull of her voice was enough to lure Lena into a deep sleep, knowing that she was safe.

Chapter Text

            In the lull between Christmas and the new year, Lena found herself nervously sitting in a chair at the hospital, feeling slightly nauseous as she watched Lillian get her blood drawn. It wasn’t the blood that was the problem, it was the fact that she was accompanying her mom to her first round of chemotherapy, and Lena felt like she was about to cry. Breathing shallowly, running her sweaty palms up and down the thighs of her pants, Lena waited for them to test Lillian’s blood, making sure that she could go ahead with the first dose of treatment. Her mom looked as unbothered as always, and she didn’t even look nervous at all – she was treating it like she was here for a business meeting, all pragmatic and brisk mannerisms that Lena knew well enough from board meetings and business events. Somehow that made it worse, because it seemed like she was the only one who was taking it hard; if her own mom, who was the one with the cancer, wasn’t getting herself worked up about it, then Lena shouldn’t either. That’s what she told herself anyway. So she blinked back the burning feeling in her eyes, swallowed the lump in her throat and sat like a statue in the chair, while Lillian came and sat back down beside her, waiting for the green light.

 

            As Lena studied her, taking in the silvered hair and the sharp green eyes, she watched as Lillian pulled out some paperwork, and began to read over the one on top, clicking a pen as she did so. Letting out a snort of laughter, Lena rolled her eyes and tipped her head back, leaning it against the wall while her eyelids fluttered closed.

 

            “I’m allowed to do work here,” Lillian told her, and Lena let her head roll to one side, opening one eye as she peered at Lillian, “it’s going to take an hour or two, so they told me to bring something to do.”

 

            “Yeah, like bring a novel to read, or do some knitting,” Lena laughed.

 

            “Why, would you like another sweater for your collection?” Lillian asked, and Lena shook her head as she smiled, eyes closed as the fluorescent light overhead painted the inside of her eyelids red.

 

            The clinical smell of the hospital was making her feel sick, and brought back memories she’d rather forget. The only good times she’d ever been to a hospital were the times her girls were born, and when Alex gave birth to Carter. Otherwise, it was just an endless stream of broken bones, fevers, and near-death experiences. She jerked slightly at the touch of cool hands on her cheek, and gave Lillian a questioning look.

 

            “Just checking to make sure you haven’t turned into a corpse while you sit there. Honestly, Lena, you look like a recluse who hasn’t seen sunlight in twelve years,” Lillian clucked disapprovingly.

 

            Huffing, Lena rolled her eyes, “yeah, I’m the neighbourhood Boo Radley.”

 

            Ignoring the snarky comment, Lillian looked at her with worry etched into the lines of her face, “are you feeling okay?”

 

            “No,” Lena curtly replied, staring straight ahead at the wall painted a pale shade of green, as if it was supposed to be comforting, but Lena thought looked sickly. The whole place was making her feel claustrophobic, and a feeling of dread filled her as she looked around, waiting for bad news. It had already come though, that’s why they were there.

 

            Lillian didn’t bother replying – Lena would take no comfort in any reassurances she could give her, and it would just make her mood even sourer that an it already was – so they both sat there in silence, Lillian making notes on the paperwork, while Lena listened to the scribbling of the pen and tried to imagine that she was anywhere else. She had to keep her eyes closed, because the sight of sickly pale patients, with bald heads – some covered with bandanas or beanies, and others without – was enough to make her eyes prickle with tears as she thought about how Lillian would look like that in a few weeks. She didn’t want to think it, but some of these people were dying. They were poisoning their bodies, but even that wasn’t enough, and Lena didn’t want to think about the chemotherapy not working right now - she didn’t want to think about it at all.

 

            It was half an hour later when the blood work came back, giving Lillian the all clear to go ahead with her first round of treatment, and a nurse took her to have her vitals checked, before taking her to the infusion room. Lena accompanied her, as Lillian’s caregiver for the whole ordeal, and she couldn’t help but feel grateful that they had a private room for it, because of course Lillian would have everything that money could buy for her. The last thing that both of them would’ve wanted was someone sneaking photos of Lillian with an IV strapped to her arm, or bring pestered by paparazzi as they left. Leaving them alone in the room, the nurse went to order the chemotherapy drugs from the pharmacy, while Lena nervously smothered Lillian with attention, unfolding a blanket and draping it across her mom’s lap to keep away the chill of the hospital, making sure that the blinds were half-closed to keep out the harsh, wintery sunlight, as she tried to compensate for the panic welling up inside by taking care of her mom.

 

            The nurse returned no too long afterwards, giving Lillian a reassuring smile and telling her that she’d be starting an IV in her arm. Lena sank down into the other chair in the room, watching as the nurse inserted a sturdy catheter into the vein of Lillian’s arm. Her mom didn’t even flinch as she chatted to the nurse, talking about the nurse’s day so far and making polite conversation. Lena brooded in the corner of the room, looking ghostly pale as she watched the nurse start running a saline solution through the IV drip. As soon as the medication was delivered, she hung them up on the IV stand, and then switched the saline solution for the chemotherapy. And that was it. It was surprisingly boring, Lena found, as she watched Lillian like a hawk, while her mom steadily made her way through the paperwork that she had brought with her. Somehow, Lena was expecting more, but they just sat there for two hours, occasionally talking, watching as the IV slowly emptied. The nurse came in every so often to check on Lillian, and once the treatment was finished, she flushed the IV line with more saline solution, before removing the catheter.

 

            Another half an hour was spent sitting in their respective chairs, while Lillian was monitored to make sure she didn’t have any adverse effects to the treatment. It wasn’t long before she was given the all clear, and Lena neatly folded up the blanket and packed her mom’s stuff away for her, eagerly looking forward to some fresh air after the stale cleanliness of the place. It was a few more minutes before the automatic doors were sliding open and the smell of bleach was replaced with the smell of the city outside, making Lena visibly relax as she sucked in a grateful lungful of cold air. Looping her arm through Lillian’s she helped guide her towards the car, even though her mom never asked for any help, and she opened the passenger side door, helping Lillian into the front seat, and placing her bag by her feet for her. Climbing into the driver’s seat, Lena relaxed into the leather, deeply breathing in the new car smell as she tightly gripped onto the steering wheel, turning her knuckles white.

 

            “Are you okay?” Lillian quietly asked, and Lena jerked her head around to give her an incredulous look.

 

            “Me?!” Lena spluttered, “are you okay?”

 

            “Oh, you know, just feeling a little sleepy,” Lillian shrugged, and Lena gave her a weak smile, her eyes watering slightly as she looked away from her and pushed a button to turn the car on. The engine quietly purred to life, and Lena slowly reversed out of the parking space, heading straight for home.

 

            Kara must’ve heard them pull up in the car, because she was already opening the door when they reached the top step, a look of concern in her blue eyes, as she quickly ushered Lillian inside, giving her a warm smile. “It’s all done?” Kara asked, helping Lillian out of her coat and hanging it up on a hook.

 

            “Yes,” Lillian nodded, “the next dose will be tomorrow, and then another the next day.”

 

            “Right,” Kara nodded, gently pressing a hand to Lillian’s back as she led her through the foyer of the house, “so three days every two weeks?”

 

            Lillian nodded, and Lena quietly took off her coat, watching them walk towards the smaller sitting room as they discussed her treatment plan, again. It would most likely be six months of three doses of chemotherapy out every two weeks, and Lena was already dreading it. She had to go back there again tomorrow, and the day after that, and every day until her mom got better. She had to get better. Lena would take her every time without complaint, if only it meant that it worked. Picking up Lillian’s bag, she ran it upstairs, taking the blanket out before she came back down and walked into the living room, where Lillian was stretched out on a sofa, and draped the blanket over her legs. A hand reached out to grab her own pale one, before she could retreat, and Lena carried on fussing with the blanket with her other hand as she avoided meeting Lillian’s gaze. The only way she would be okay right now was if she avoided looking anyone in the eye, because she knew she would crumble under their stares.

 

            “Thank you,” Lillian said, reaching up to gently touch Lena’s cheek, sighing when Lena turned her head to the side, letting the hand fall away. Nodding, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat and gently pulled her hand out of her mom’s, before casting a look in Kara’s direction, but not actually looking at her.

 

            “I’m going to make some tea,” Lena announced, walking towards the kitchen and listening to the sound of footsteps following a few moments later. Flipping the switch on the kettle, she pulled out three cups from the cupboard, putting a teabag in each of them, and froze at the feeling of warm hands on her hips, feeling Kara’s arms slowly wind around her from behind. Reaching down, Lena gently pulled Kara’s arms apart and slipped out of the embrace, walking over to the fridge and pulling out some milk.

 

            The pain was clear in Kara’s voice when she spoke, “talk to me, please.”

 

            “There’s nothing to talk about,” Lena murmured, angrily adding a splash of milk to each cup of tea, before returning the carton to the fridge again, “it all went well, I suppose.”

 

            “Lena,” Kara sighed, “why do you always do this to yourself?”

 

            “Do what?” Lena snapped, her pale cheeks turning red as she flushed at the accusation.

 

            A warm hand wrapped around her own, warming up her cool fingers, and Lena swallowed the lump in her throat as she looked down at their entwined fingers, before she slowly pulled back. “You always pull away. You never let me help you,” Kara softly said, “you want to save everyone, but you won’t even talk to me about this. Let me help you.”

 

            “And how exactly are you going to help me?” Lena curtly asked, bracing herself on the edge of the counter as she ground her teeth together, “what, do you have a cure for cancer? You and my mom have been working on it for twenty years. The only way you can help me is if you actually did your job.”

 

            Kara let out an incredulous laugh, laced with hurt and sharper than usual, and Lena felt her hand gently rest against her spine, those strong, capable fingers almost seeming to keep her upright. “I’m your wife, Lena, I’m not your employee. If the only thing I can help you with is finding a cure, then you should know that I want that as much as you do – your mom and I have fought for twenty years for that – and if you think I haven’t pooled every single resource in her project towards finding a cure for her, then you don’t know me at all. It’s fine, I know you’re hurt and you’re upset, but I’m not just anyone. You don’t get to be a hypocrite and tell me to talk to you about my problems, and then bottle yours up and snap at anyone who asks if you’re okay.”

 

            “Well then don’t ask!” Lena snapped.

 

            “Don’t ask?” Kara echoed, her voice coloured with disbelief, “well if I didn’t ask, we wouldn’t talk about anything, would we? You’d just pretend that everything’s fine.”

 

            “Yeah, I learnt that from you,” Lena bitingly replied, “because as long as no one else sees that there’s something wrong with you, then it doesn’t exist, right? I’m just being dramatic.”

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Kara scoffed slightly, “well yeah, you are right now! I’m just trying to make sure you’re okay and-“

 

            “I’m not okay, Kara! What fucking part of this would I be okay about? I’m just trying not to think about it so I can focus on keeping everything running. Is that not good enough? Because I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have a clue how to keep everything in order if you were in my shoes. I’m trying my best. I’m taking those stupid sleeping pills for you-“

 

            “No, no, you don’t get to put that decision on me, when I let you make that decision by yourself, and I don’t care if everything falls to shit while we sort things out. Just stop trying to make everything perfect! We’re not perfect, Lena, and we never have been. Who cares that our daughter gets detention all the time? Who cares if you have to step down as CEO for a whole year, if that’s what it takes? You worry too much about things that don’t matter, when you have things that do! Do you think that I’ll love you any less for cutting back on how much you’re trying to handle?” Kara asked, giving Lena a pleading look, which was met with nothing. “Damn it, Lena, why is your pride more important than you? You’re going to wear yourself down, and you’re not even going to let me be there to help you fix it.”

 

            The switch on the kettle flipped, and Lena silently filled up all three cups, listening to the squeaky toy being chewed in the corner by an oblivious puppy. Taking each teabag out and tossing them in the bin, Lena held a cup out to Kara. “Here.”

 

            Picking up the other two cups, Lena brushed past her and made for the door, leaving Kara standing in the middle of the kitchen, “what, so that’s it?”

 

            Lillian had very clearly heard their raised voices, even if she couldn’t make out the words, and Lena’s cheeks burned with shame as she avoided her mom’s eyes, handing her a cup of tea and curling up on another sofa, watching the crime show that Lillian had put on. Neither of them said anything as they sat there, sipping their tea, and before long, Lillian was drifting off to sleep, and Kara was nowhere to be seen.

 

---

 

            Lena must’ve fallen asleep, because it was getting dark outside, and the house was quiet, aside from the low sound coming from the TV, the crackling fire, and the occasional flip of a page as Kara read beside her, with Lena’s feet in her lap. A blanket was draped over her, and Lena blinked in confusion as she pushed herself up onto her elbows, looking over at Lillian who was still asleep on the other sofa.

 

            “Where are the girls?” Lena hoarsely asked, and Kara looked up from the book she was reading.

 

            “At Alex’s,” Kara stiffly replied, “I didn’t think it would be good for your mom to have them making noise. Or for them to see her like that, and us.”

 

            Lena nodded, turning her attention to the TV, and Kara scoffed, shaking her head as she smiled slightly to herself. Turning her attention back to Kara, Lena arched an eyebrow, “what is it?”

 

            “Do you not even care that we fought?” Kara asked, a wounded look on her face, that tugged at Lena’s heartstrings.

 

            “Of course I care,” Lena bristled slightly, “and if we talk about it right now, we’ll only get angrier, and that won’t help at all. So just leave it alone for tonight. Please.”

 

            Kara nodded, and they were silent for a few minutes, with Lena engrossed in the documentary about penguins, while Kara read. Until Lillian woke up, stretching as she got her bearings, and then shot to her feet. At the abrupt, swift movement, both women umped to their feet, with Lena calling after her mom as she watched Lillian all but run out of the room. Following after her, Lena watched Lillian open the door to the nearest bathroom on the ground floor, and heard the sound of retching as she was sick. Freezing in her tracks, Lena paled slightly, and Kara’s hand gently touched her on the shoulder, dropping to her arm and giving it a reassuring squeeze as she brushed past.

 

            “I’ve got it,” Kara murmured, “go back into the living room.”

 

            Numbly nodding, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat as she watched Kara walk into the bathroom and crouch down, her soothing voice drifting towards Lena, even though she couldn’t make out the unintelligible soothing words. Instead of returning to the living room, she ran upstairs, all the way up to the third floor, and slipped into one of the rarely used rooms, the furniture covered in white sheets to keep the dust off it. She opened the window, letting cold air wash over her face and floor the room, and shivered slightly as she pulled the sheet off one of the armchairs, the legs scraping along the wooden floorboards as she dragged it over to the window. Curling up into a ball on the armchair, Lena tightly wrapped her arms around her legs, burying her face in her knees as she started to cry. It was all too much, and she let everything pent up until she was near the breaking point, and she couldn’t hold it in any longer. Letting the cool air numb her, she cried until her teeth were chattering in between hitched sobs, and she didn’t know how long it was before Kara found her, only that the stars were out, visible through the window as her head came up at the sound of a gentle knock on the door, and she caught a glimpse of the inky sky, before shutting her eyes, letting tears slide down her frozen cheeks.

 

            “God, you’re going to freeze in here,” Kara muttered, crossing over to the window and pulling it shut, before she turned and crouched down before Lena, her knees cracking at the movement. Reaching out, she took Lena’s cold hands in her own, pressing kisses to the knuckles on each, before she gently breathed on them and rubbed them to get the blood flowing again. “She’s okay.”

 

            Drawing in a shuddering breath, Lena let out a small sob, uncurling from her ball and throwing herself at Kara, who wrapped her arms tightly around her. Burying her face into Kara’s shoulder, Lena cried, holding her close and relaxing slightly beneath the gentle feeling of Kara’s hand rubbing soothing circles on her back while she softly shushed her. “I’m s-sorry,” Lena stammered, her breathing hitching as she breathed in.

 

            “It’s okay,” Kara softly crooned, stroking Lena’s dark hair, and Lena breathed out a sigh of relief at the gentle brush of lips against her hair. She didn’t know why it was having such an impact on her, watching her mom throw up – she knew it was going to happen with the treatment – but it had been like a punch to the gut, like a reminder that it wasn’t just going to be a couple of hours spent sitting in a chair every few weeks. It was going to be hard.

 

            “I need you,” Lena sobbed, “I need you to just be my Kara. That’s all I need.”

 

            “I am your Kara,” her wife quietly replied, “I’ve never been anyone else’s.”

 

            Lena would’ve been content to stay in that room all night, with Kara’s arms wrapped around her, keeping her together, but Kara coaxed her to her feet and led them back downstairs. She’d put Lillian to bed, and the other woman had argued against Kara staying to watch over her, and Lena knew her mom wouldn’t want an audience – she was even prouder than Lena – so they went to bed. They didn’t talk much, and Lena just let herself be held, taking comfort in the perfume of Kara’s skin, and the way her arms tightly wound around her waist, making sure Lena knew that she wasn’t letting her go. It didn’t matter if they argued, they would never go to bed angry with each other, because they knew just how lucky they were to be able to go to bed in each others arms. They didn’t have to say anything to know how much they loved each other, but they did anyway, and with two little pills, Lena was soon slipping into darkness, the faint drumming of a strong heart lulling her to sleep.

Chapter Text

            After two more days of chemotherapy, New Year’s Eve came around, and their annual party was off to a grim start before it even started. Kara had suggested that they cancel it, but Lena had firmly refused, partly because of the late notice, and partly because she wanted to pretend that it was all fine. Still, she had been short with everyone over the past couple of days, but especially with Lillian, who was stubbornly trying to go about her day while Lena argued that she should be in bed. This time the argument was about her mom attending the party, which was soon to be starting, and they were all gathered in one of the sitting rooms while Kara and Eliza made some last minute additions to the food platters covering every inch of the long table in the dining room reserved for special occasions.

 

            Lillian was sitting in an armchair, her pale face hidden behind a mask of makeup, wearing an elegant dress and swirling a cup of wine in her hand. Her usual air of dismissive arrogance was about her, and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with her. Lena felt a prickle of annoyance as she eyed her mom though, a bunch of hairpins in her mouth as she neatly pinned Lily’s curls into place. Pressing a kiss to the top of her daughter’s head, Lena shot Lillian a dark look.

 

            “Aiming for liver cancer next?” she scathingly shot at her.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lillian took a sip of her wine, smiling around the rim of her glass, “am I not allowed to indulge myself in one glass on New Year’s Eve?”

 

            “No,” Lena snapped, walking over to her and plucking the glass from her hand and clutching it tightly in her hand, forcing herself to let go of some of her annoyance and frustration before she shattered the glass in her hand.

 

            “Funny,” Lillian said with amusement, “I could’ve sworn that I was your mother.”

 

            Lena scoffed, setting the glass of wine down on an end table, “you’re under my roof, you follow my rules. Wasn’t that what you used to tell me?”

 

            Leaning over to reach for the glass of wine, Lillian raised it in a slight toast to her daughter, “and when did you ever listen?”

 

            Scowl deepening, Lena muttered curses under her breath, scolding Daisy for having her feet up on the furniture, and feeling overcrowded with her whole family there, even though Alex and Maggie were carrying on a conversation between themselves to be polite. With everything set, Kara wandered back in with Eliza, reading the tension in the room and staying silent as she watched Lena fix the pillows so they sat at the right angle, and sighed as she slammed down coasters for Alex and Maggie’s drinks with pointed looks.

 

            “Don’t mind Lena, she’s not in a very good mood,” Lillian said, “she’s taking the whole thing rather hard.”

 

            Lena stiffened at her mom’s words, her shoulders tense and back rigid as she straightened up. “Well excuse me for not treating my home like a halfway house for waifs and strays. If you don’t want to use a coaster, then why don’t you go back to your own house?”

 

            “By all means, let me just pack my bag and I’ll be out of your hair,” Lillian dryly replied, her lips twitching as her eyes crinkled in amusement. Lena didn’t think her joke was very funny, and flowered at her mom, who let out an exasperated sigh, “it’s New Year’s Eve, Lena. If you’re going to be in a mood, why bother coming to the party?”

 

            “It’s in my house,” Lena spluttered. Maggie coughed, clearly trying to hide a laugh, and Lena gave her a withering look, returned by an apologetic shrug.

 

            “If you’re quite finished,” Lillian said in a biting tone, her eyes flashing a warning, which made Lena flush with anger and embarrassment at being chastised like a child. She stormed out of the room, heading towards the kitchen while her heels clicked on the tiles, while footsteps followed after her.

 

            Reaching for a clean wineglass on the kitchen counter, Lena grabbed the open bottle of red and filled it up, nearly to the brim, and drank deeply, staining already red lips an even darker colour. “You know, you’re a lot like grandma,” Daisy drawled as she sauntered into the kitchen.

 

            Lena spluttered, turning to look at her daughter with an almost offended look on her face, “I am not!”

 

            “Uh, yeah, you are, mom,” Daisy laughed, hoisting herself up onto the kitchen counters and stealing a carrot stick. “I can’t believe you got told off in front of everyone,” Daisy snickered.

 

            “Watch it or I’ll tell you off in a minute,” Lena grumbled stealing the carrot stick off her and taking a bite, before she handed it back.

 

            Gesturing towards the glass of wine Lena held, Daisy smirked slightly, “can I have a sip?”

 

            Arching an eyebrow, Lena let out a snort of laughter, right as Kara’s voice rang out behind her, “absolutely not! You’ve got a federal agent and a police captain sitting in the living room. Keep your hands out of the liquor cabinet tonight.”

 

            “God, you’re both like grandma,” Daisy grumbled.

 

            Kara walked over to the counter, plucking the rest of the carrot stick out of her daughter’s hand and popping it in her mouth with a grin as she watched a look of outrage crossed her face. “Which grandma are you talking about?”

 

            “My mother!” Lena exclaimed, “I’m nothing like my mother.”

 

            “Sure, Luthor. You’re being pretty uptight right now though ... kind of like your mom used to be,” Maggie said, smirking as she walked in, an empty glass dangling from one hand as she made a beeline for then scotch.

 

            Jerking the nearest bottle out of Maggie’s reach, Lena gave her a disgruntled look, “find your own liquor.”

 

            “Oo someone’s testy tonight,” Maggie mused, a flicker of humour dancing in her eyes as she grabbed the bottle in Lena’s hands, which was begrudgingly relinquished, “sure you don’t want a few minutes alone to sort it out?”

 

            Scoffing, Kara rolled her eyes, stealing Lena’s glass of wine and taking a sip, before pressing it back into her wife’s hand, “there’s nothing to sort out. And Daisy, your mom isn’t anything like grandma Lillian, and I’d be careful about saying it again or she might ground you.”

 

            Daisy wrinkled her nose, holding a hand up with her thumb and forefinger just the tiniest bit apart. Kara let out a snort of laughter and Lena poked her in the ribs, right where she was ticklish, watching as her daughter hopped down off the counter. She stalked out of the kitchen, and Maggie drifted out after her, almost a whole foot shorter than her niece, who playfully tried to snag the bottle of scotch off her aunt, who good naturedly nudged her in return.

 

            “Are you sure you want the party?” Kara asked, her blue eyes searching Lena’s face as she ran her hands up and down her arms, holding her at arms length.

 

            Smiling softly, Lena reached up to give Kara’s chin a gentle tweak, before she leant in and swiftly kissed her. “Of course, besides they’ll be here any minute. Do you want some wine?”

 

            “Mhm,” Kara murmured, wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist from behind, watching as her wife opened a bottle of Kara’s favourite wine and poured her a glass. Kissing her on the shoulder, Kara took the glass and gave her a loving smile, standing in Lena’s embrace as her arms wound around Kara’s waist.

 

            They were disturbed a moment later, as anyone with kids was, and both of them looked towards the door as Lily bounded in, all elbows and knees as she clumsily grew into her towering height. “Hey mom, can I stay up all night tonight?” she begged, her blue eyes giving Kara a pleading look as she clutched onto her mom’s arm.

 

            Laughing, Kara reached out and brushed a stray lock of hair behind Lily’s ear, “sure, love, if you can.”

 

            “Are you going to stay up all night?” Lily asked both of them.

 

            “I might,” Lena shrugged.

 

            “Sure, honey,” Kara agreed, knowing that her daughter would be drifting off to sleep not long after midnight, “we can play cards. I’m sure Veronica will stay up and teach you how to play poker.”

 

            Perking up slightly at the suggestion, Lily smiled brightly, “really? You’ll let me play it this time?”

 

            “Mhm,” Kara said, wrinkling her nose slightly as her eyes crinkled at the corners, “just make sure you don’t let her cheat.”

 

            Excited, Lily kissed Kara on the cheek before skipping out of the room, and Lena chucked quietly as she shook her head, “you know she’s going to be passed out by one at the latest, and a shitty card player, right?”

 

            “Oh yeah,” Kara readily agreed, “so what’s the harm in it?”

 

            “Hm, very true,” Lena murmured, pressing her lips together, before she smiled up at Kara, her face suddenly lighting up. “You look as beautiful as ever.”

 

            Kara blushed slightly, letting her forehead fall against Lena’s, “stop, you’re going to make me blush.”

 

            “I already am,” Lena pointed out, “and I like it.”

 

            Laughing, Kara pulled back slightly with a shy look on her face, “do I even have to tell you how beautiful you look?”

 

            “No, but it is good for my ego,” Lena said, giving her a slight smirk.

 

            “Well, you look absolutely stunning,” Kara said kissing her along her jaw, “and as much as I’d like to take this dress off you, we have guests arriving.” The doorbell rang not a moment later, and Lena’s mouth felt slightly dry as she looked at Kara, before her lips quirked up into a smile.

 

            “You know, we could cancel the party ...”

 

            With a quick bubble of laughter, Kara was extracting herself from Lena’s embrace, grabbing her by the hand and dragging her out of the kitchen to welcome their first guests. To nobody’s surprise, it was Jess and her husband, their two sons, hovering behind them, and Lena smiled brightly at her old friend, wrapping her in a hug while Kara greeted her husband. They came every year, and it was one of the few times Lena ever got to see her, which made it all the more special to have an annual New Year’s Party.

 

---

 

            The party was in full swing, with dozens of guests milling around the house. Lena was as gracious as she could be bothered to be, spending most of her time with only her closest friends, tucked away in the corner while everyone else enjoyed themselves. There was plenty of alcohol, and Daisy had proclaimed herself in charge of music, with the help of Carter, which was amusing and slightly embarrassing as the predominantly middle aged had to listen to pop music.

 

            Spotting Alex and Maggie chatting to Jess, Lena picked up a canapé and walked over to them, watching as Maggie smiled up at Alex, her dimples deepening, and nudged her slightly at something she said. It wasn’t fair for Lena to feel jealous, she was happy that her sister-in-law’s were happy in their marriage, and she was happy in hers, but as much as her and Kara were trying to tiptoe around each other, it wasn’t the same, because it was like they were walking on eggshells. Lena largely blamed herself for that though.

 

            “You alright?” Maggie’s voice intruded, luring Lena closer as she blinked away her thoughts, “you looked spaced out. Are you high?”

 

            “Maggie!” Alex exclaimed, muffling a laugh as she chided her wife, “as if she would tell you that anyway.”

 

            Maggie snorted, “well it’s not like I’d arrest her! Besides, it might do her some good to try some, it might knock that miserable look off her face.”

 

            “Piss off, Sawyer,” Lena said, her lips curling up into a smile.

 

            “Lena’s too much of a good girl to get involved in all of that,” a snarky voice came from behind, and Lena turned around, grimacing as she looked at Veronica, slipping through Gayle and Sam, who were deep in conversation, probably about work.

 

            Spluttering, Lena rolled her eyes, “me, a good girl? Please.”

 

            Alex laughed, “I’ve spent too much time around both of you to know that if you weren’t rich, you would’ve been arrested a dozen times, you privileged assholes.”

 

            “Uh, babe, we got arrested with them,” Maggie reminded her.

 

              Shooting her wife an exasperated look, Alex pressed her lips into a thin line, “that’s because you stole a fucking clown statue!”

 

            “You stole what?”

 

            All five of them turned to look at Daisy, who had her eyebrows raised expectantly, a wineglass filled with lemonade in hand, and had caught the tail end of the conversation. “Uh, nothing,” Alex said, giving her niece a wide smile, “I’ll have no thief’s in this family, thank you.”

 

            “Oh come on,” Daisy wheedled, “I want to know. Jess, you’ll tell me, right?”

 

            She sidled up to the older woman, giving her a pleading look, while everyone laughed, including Jess. “Well don’t look at me! I didn’t steal anything.”

 

            “Only because you were too busy throwing up in that guy’s cap,” Alex cut in, and Lena clapped a hand to her mouth as Jess blushed.

 

            Maggie let out a wistful sigh, “god I miss being young.”

 

            “That’s the part you miss?” Alex incredulously asked, “being sick and getting arrested.”

 

            “Wait, mom, you were arrested?” Daisy exclaimed, a surprised laugh passing her lips, “no way. I didn’t know you were such a badass.”

 

            Lena groaned, putting her head in her hand, before sighing and meeting her daughter’s amused eyes. “It was a misunderstanding, and don’t bring it up around your mom. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a telling off in my life.”

 

            “Oh you didn’t know your mom was a badass?” Veronica cut in, a sharp smile on her face, “Well little Daisy, do I have a story for you. Quite a few actually.”

 

            “Don’t give her any ideas, Ronnie,” Maggie said, jerking her thumb towards Daisy, “this one’s already trouble.”

 

            “She got it from her mom,” Alex laughed.

 

            “She got it from your incorrigible wife,” Lena corrected her.

 

            “You’re all bad influences,” Kara laughed, appearing out of thin air and placing a kiss on Daisy’s head, “you alright there, DJ?”

 

            Daisy nodded, giving her a warm smile, “got any requests, mom?”

 

            Kara laughed, wrinkling her nose slightly, “no offence, darling, but how about something not from this decade? You’re surrounded by old people.”

 

            “Oh please, Lena’s been making her listen to Bach since she was born,” Maggie snorted.

 

            “Bach’s good!” Lena and Daisy both retorted, laughing as they looked at each other, while Maggie groaned.

 

            “Fine,” Daisy huffed as Kara gave her an expectant look, “what music do you want on?”

 

            “I’ll come and help,” Kara said, taking her daughter’s hand in her own and worming her way through the crowd, towards the large stereo blasting music in the foyer so that it drifted through the hallways and into the rooms.

 

            A few moments later, Bohemian Rhapsody came on, and Lena flushed bright red at the loud laughs off Alex and Maggie, and the smirk on Kara’s face as she poked her head back into the room. Everyone else looked confused at the commotion, and Sam looked at Lena in amusement, drifting towards her. “I feel like there’s a story here.”

 

            “Oh yeah, but Lena might divorce me if I tell you,” Kara said with a smile, “come on then love, it’s time for some karaoke.”

 

            “Get lost!” Lena spluttered, raising her glass of wine and drinking to hide her embarrassment. “You’re the one who can sing.”

 

            Laughing, Kara turned around and shrugged, her eyes landing on her youngest daughter, “come on then, Lils, let’s show your mom how it’s done.”

 

            Pushing Lena down into a chair, Kara fell into step with the song, loudly singing with absolutely no shame, while Lily leapt at the chance to show off her pretty voice - obviously inherited from Kara - while everyone cheered them on and Lena laughed. As the song came to a close, they both bowed and Lena shook her head, eyes sparkling with amusement as she looked at the same pair of blue eyes in two different faces, both of them bright and full of laughter. Wrapping her daughter in a hug, Kara winked at Lena, who couldn’t help but laugh; she was as ridiculously playful as the day they’d met, and Lena’s eyes prickled with tears as she gazed at her lovingly. She could always count on Kara to brighten things up with her childish naïvety, and Lena’s heart melted at the sight of her laughing with Lily, while Daisy shook her head, smiling in the foyer as she played another song.

 

            With some old school classics on, Alex drained her drink and pulled Maggie out into the foyer, making her wife dance with her, which Maggie obligingly agreed too. Her and Lena had always been pushovers for the Danvers sisters, and twenty years hadn’t been enough to change that. Smiling as Lily dragged Kara out to the foyer, while other friends and guests began to drift out there too to join in on the dancing - they were all drunk enough for it - and Lena walked over to the doorway, leaning against the frame while she watched Kara spin Lily under her arm, laughing while she did it, while Alex and Maggie did silly moves as they tried to make each other laugh at the absurdity of it. Over near the stereo, Carter had her hands covering her face, being between her fingers as she watched her mom’s with some embarrassment, while Daisy laughed, staring down at her phone as she queued up the next song.

 

            Slipping through the people, getting swept into Winn’s arms as he span her around in a circle, a pair of lopsided New Years glasses on his face, and a drunken smile as he sang along. Shaking her head, Lena let her hand gently rest on Lucy’s shoulder as she leant in close to her and James, who were dancing nearby. “I don’t think Winn’s going to make it to midnight.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lucy shook her head, “he never does.”

 

            Laughing, Lena gave her an exasperated look, before she carried on towards the stereo. “You alright, love? Don’t you want to dance?”

 

            “No,” Daisy scoffed, looking disgusted at the thought, “this is old people music.”

 

            “Your sister’s dancing,” Lena pointed out, and Daisy rolled her eyes.

 

            “Lily’s too young to be embarrassed by you yet,” Daisy replied, her voice snarky and her eyebrows drawn low over her stormy eyes.

 

            Lena shrugged helplessly, knowing that all kids thought their parents were embarrassing, and she watched as Ruby appeared, leading Sam onto the makeshift dance floor, shaking her head at Lena. “Alright, you don’t have to stand here picking music though. Go and have fun, it’s New Year’s Eve.”

 

            “I’m fine here,” Daisy replied, and Lena rolled her eyes.

 

            Kara danced her way over to Lena, grabbing her hands and pulling her towards the dance floor, and Lena’s grumbling got lost in the thumping of the music, as Kara put a pair of flimsy glasses, like the ones Winn was wearing, onto Lena’s face, smiling brightly as she wrapped her arms around Lena’s waist.

 

            “What’s wrong?” Kara asked, her smile flattering slightly.

 

            Taking a deep breath, Lena gave her a big smile and pressed her lips against Kara’s, tasting wine and wanting more, before she pulled back. “Nothing, but I always manage to get lured into dancing with you.”

 

            “Well now I’ve got you here in my arms, I’m not letting go of you,” Kara said, reaching up to gently boop the tip of Lena’s nose, making her smile.

 

            “I never want you to,” Lena told her, her arms tightening around Kara’s neck and shoulder, feeling the strong scent of perfume that was Kara’s favourite at parties.

 

            They danced a while longer, before Kara wanted another drink, and Lena willingly went to fetch her one from in the kitchen, where she bumped into Sam and Veronica chatting. Picking up a bottle of red, Lena filled up a glass for Kara, and one for herself, before topping up the other women’s glasses too. Veronica was talking about one of her casino’s in National City, and Sam was listening with rapt interest, and Lena knew just how enchanting Veronica could be – it’s why she had been so popular at boarding school – and Lena listened as she leant on the kitchen counter, swirling the wine around in her glass. The story came to an end, and Sam laughed, while Lena broodingly ran her finger around the rim of the glass, having tuned out somewhere towards the end, not giving Veronica the response she’d been hoping for.

 

            “What’s wrong?” Veronica asked, arching an eyebrow as she smirked slightly at Lena, “are my stories getting boring.”

 

            “Ignore her,” Maggie said, appearing out of the blue, just to irritate Lena, as always, “she’s been in a shitty mood all week, right Lee?”

 

            “Don’t fucking call me Lee,” Lena grumbled, taking a sip of her wine and smirking around the rim of her glass, “Mags.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Maggie stole the glass of wine that Lena had poured for Kara, and took a sip, “Alex calls me that all the time; it doesn’t have the same effect, Lee.”

 

            Flipping her off, Lena laughed, her eyes lighting up as she watched Daisy walk into the kitchen, grunting at the greeting off the other gathered women, before she grabbed a plate of mini quiches and sitting down at the kitchen table. “You alright, love?” Lena asked, and Daisy shrugged vaguely as she shoved a quiche into her mouth.

 

            “How’s school, Dais?” Sam called out, draining the rest of her wine and reaching out to refill it, sloshing some of it over the side and drunkenly laughing, “got a boyfriend or girlfriend yet?”

 

            Flushing bright red, Daisy crammed another quiche into her mouth, mumbling something intelligible as she hurried to leave the room, while all four women watched with amusement. “Sensitive topic?” Veronica asked.

 

            “What topic?” Kara asked, her chin resting on Lena’s shoulder as she came up behind her, nuzzling Lena’s hair, “did you get lost?”

 

            “Maggie poached your drink,” Lena said, holding her own glass out to Kara, “and Sam asked Daisy if she was dating anyone.”

 

            “Daisy’s dating someone?” Alex asked, finding her way into the kitchen along with Lucy and Jess, the other two giggling as they stumbled slightly, paper party hats on their heads, and empty glasses in hand.

 

            Lena let out a laugh, “no! Of course she’s not.”

 

            “She’s too young to date,” Kara spluttered, “she’s only seventeen.”

 

            “Oh god,” Lucy snorted, “really, Kara? I’d had two boyfriends by her age … and a girlfriend.”

 

            Lena made a sound of surprise, and Kara made a sound of indignation, “well are the twins dating yet?”

 

            Laughing, Lucy rolled her eyes, “they’re in college, of course they’re dating. I mean, not that they tell me and James that, but I assume they are. He’d scare them off with a gun.”

 

            Maggie gave Kara a nudge in the ribs, “ you might want to take a tip off your army buddy. Still got your guns?”

 

            “She’s not dating anyone!” Lena protested, “she doesn't even hang out with friends that often, so who would she even date? She’s just … shy. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with her not dating anyone. I didn’t date anyone until Kara.”

 

            “Ah yes, and you were a complete social butterfly,” Veronica snorted, “you didn’t even have friends until you fell in love.”

 

            “Well it’s not like we got along, did we, Ronnie,” Lena scoffed, “who else was there? That weirdo who wore those socks with the frills until she was eighteen and got held back a grade? Fuck no, I had more fun making ridiculous bets with you, even if I didn’t like you.”

 

            Holding a hand to her heart, Veronica gave her an amused look, “I’m touched. Old age has made you soft.”

 

            “Get lost,” Lena huffed, “I’m still the same person I was twenty years ago, and I could drink each and every one of you under the table and still beat you at five rounds of poker.”

 

            “Is that a bet?” Alex asked, arching an eyebrow.

 

            “No,” Lena curtly replied, pouting slightly, “I don’t make bets with you anymore. Not since you stole one of my favourite cars.”

 

            Alex rolled her eyes, “I didn’t steal it, I won it in the bet. That’s the whole point in betting something, and I told you it was a joke, but you insisted on giving it to me anyway because of your stupid Luthor pride.”

 

            “And that Range Rover drives like a dream,” Maggie sighed, slinging an arm around Lena’s shoulders, her smile growing as Lena crossed her arms over her chest and shot Alex a pleading look.

 

---

 

            The clock hit midnight and everyone erupted into cheers, finding their loved ones in the room so they could kiss them. Lena smiled as Kara’s lips came down on hers, their noses bumping and the two pairs of glasses that Kara wore wonky on her face. Lena kissed her again when Kara pulled back, listening to the off-tune tooting of the little party horns, and shaking off tendrils of crepe paper as party poppers were set off. The music started back up, and Lena glanced over at Daisy, who was standing against the wall, having just picked the next song. Stumbling backwards a few steps, Lena’s arms instinctively wound around her other daughter’s waist, rocking them both slightly as she laughed and hugged her back tightly.

 

            “Happy new year, darling,” Lena said, reaching up to affectionately pet her cheek and kiss the other one.

 

            “Happy new year!” Lily exclaimed, her eyes bright with excitement, which Lena knew would soon turn to sleepiness now that the celebrations would start winding down. Looking over at Daisy, she watched as Kara held her daughter at arms length, both of them smiling, while Kara slipped a pair of the glasses onto Daisy’s face.

 

            Letting Lily drag her towards Kara and Daisy, Lena smiled brightly, holding her arms open to her eldest, who gave her a hug, bending down for Lena to kiss her on the cheek. “Happy new year, love,” Lena shouted over the music.

 

            “Happy new year, mom,” Daisy said, a soft smile curling her lips. Holding her daughter close a few moments longer, Lena watched as Kara did the same with Lily, swaying slightly with the music as a slow, slightly drunken smile spread across her face, and the four of them took a moment to appreciate the fact that another year as a family had passed by. There would be more to come.

 

            Next, they sought out the rest of their family, bumping into friends along the way and doling out hugs and kisses on cheeks, laughing and joking as they searched for Alex and Maggie, Lillian, Eliza, Carter, and then their closest friends. Wishing each other a happy new year each time they crossed paths with someone they hadn’t seen yet, Lena soon sought out her mom again and helped her upstairs to her room. She had stayed up until midnight and seen the new year roll in, and as Lena helped her into bed - which Lillian didn’t protest, feeling weak after three days of chemotherapy – neither of them acknowledged the fact that it could’ve been for the last time. It might not have been the last one for five years, if the prognosis was at the average expectancy, but it could be the last, and that terrified them both more than they would ever admit to each other. Murmuring a reply to Lillian’s quiet ‘love you’ Lena slipped back out of the bedroom, flipping the light off and shutting the door, before walking back down to the ground floor, where the part raged on.

 

            Some of hers and Kara’s friends from work were already leaving, and she said goodbye, moving through the rooms where people still gathered. Winn was passed out on a sofa, a blanket draped over him and a bucket on the floor near his head, Sam was chatting to Alex, while Jess, Maggie and Veronica had set up an impromptu poker game at the table in the games room, while Carter and Daisy played a game of pool, teaming up against Lucy and James’ twin girls, while Lily and Ruby cheered them on. They all seemed to be making their own fun, and even Eliza was talking to one of the more elderly guests from Lillian’s company, which left Lena to go and see where Kara was. She found her in one of the coat rooms at the back of the house, slipping on wellies and wearing a heavy coat, another one clutched in her hands.

 

            “I was just about to come and find you!” Kara said when Lena stumbled in, both of them just a little bit too drunk to not be considered tipsy anymore. Their cheeks were flushed, and eyes bright, and Lena let out a dopey laugh as she took the coat off Kara and leant in for a kiss. “Put it on. I have something for you.”

 

            “It wouldn’t happen to be one of these, would it?” Lena asked, cocking an eyebrow as she smirked, a white envelope held between slender fingers, with Kara’s name scrawled on the front.

 

            Pulling one out of the pocket of the coat she was wearing, Kara smiled brightly, “you read my mind. Here, some wellies for you as well.”

 

            Slipping off her heels and shoving her feet into the wellies, Lena pushed her arms through the sleeves of the huge coat, before weaving her fingers through Kara’s and opening the back door. Artemis was nosing at the opening, eager to get outside into the cold, and both of them laughed as the dog raced off like a ghostly streak, while they followed at a slower pace, lurching slightly as they made for the shadowy opening in the white capped hedges of the maze. Lena would’ve been able to find her way through it blindfolded in the dark, so drunkenly taking each turn in the dark was no problem, even with her slightly clouded thoughts, and they soon found their way to the middle of it. It had become an annual tradition; every year after midnight, they’d find each other and go to the middle of the maze, stealing a few moments alone so that they could swap letters and escape the loudness of the party.

 

            Swapping letters, they both sat down on the edge of the fountain, facing each other and smiling widely, their breaths coming out in white puffs as their cheeks reddened further from the cold. They both tore open their letters, and Kara had brought her phone, which served as a torch as they both read the words, leaning in close to see the words scrawled across the paper.

 

 

                        To my dearest Lena,

 

            Happy New Year!!!!! It hasn’t been an easy one, not by a long shot, and I know this past month has been especially difficult for both of us, but maybe more so for you. I’m hoping this year will be filled with more happiness, and less of the bad things, but I know that it’s not going to be easy, which isn’t a reassuring way to start off the new year, but I know we’ll face whatever comes at us like we always have – together. The most comforting thing I’ve ever known is that no matter what, I always have you to come home to, and I know you’re always waiting for me. You said that the one thing you did right was falling in love with me, and I can’t help but feel like that’s true for me as well. Through all of the bad, there’s that one overshadowing thought that eclipses everything else – I love you, more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone.

 

             I want you to know how much you mean to me, and how much your strength and support has meant to me over the past few weeks. I know I keep those memories to myself, and I should’ve told you how bad I was getting long before you confronted me about it. Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to try and play it off like it wasn’t important, but I didn’t want to worry you. I hope you know that I only had your best interests at heart, because I know you worry as much as I do about everything that happened back then. I’m hoping that this year is the year I finally get to let go of some of the badness of it. I promised you I’d tell the girls after the new year, and I’m not sure when that will be exactly – maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month – but you can hold me to that promise that I’ll tell them soon. Being in therapy is helping more than I thought, and there’s some things I want to talk to you about that I’ve realized that I can talk about now. I shut away so much of that, and I think my resolution for the year is going to be opening up more, even though you can already read me like an open book. I want to get back to that happy place where I annoy you with my non-stop babbling, because it’s been a while since I’ve been at that point. I hope that you want to talk about your troubles too, because you know that I’m always here, and you know that your troubles are mine and it hurts me to see you hurt yourself when you shy away from your feelings.

 

            If anything, over the past year I’ve learnt that we never really move on from things. I’m still stuck on what happened to me, and balancing being two people, and you’re still stuck on the person you were before we met, and balancing being the person you are since then. I think it’s safe to say that we’re both stuck a lot, and I know how much that frustrates you. I know having your mom back in the house has made you go back a little to the person that you used to be, and I know that you’re doing it for her sake. You’ve been angry over the past week – more than you have for the rest of the month – and I don’t begrudge you that anger, Lena. I don’t hold it against you at all, because I know what it’s like to lose a mother, and mine was sudden and painful, but at least it was quick. I hope that’s something you don’t have to go through for many years. You got your stubbornness from Lillian, so that tells me that she’s not going down without a fight, and if she brawls half as well as you, she’s going to kick its ass. I’m not worried; I know that she’ll be okay. We all will.

 

            This next year is going to be an interesting one, I can already feel it. There’s going to be so much happening, and I hope everything falls into place. As long as we have each other, I know the rest will be bearable, and if the good parts are as good as they were last year, I know that this year will give us some more memories to add to the photo albums, and even a few firsts. I can’t believe our little baby is going to be graduating and going off to college – I’m still holding out hope that she has some sense knocked into her, and I might have to get Maggie to give her a stern talking to, because she’s the only one she listens to, for some reason. Who knew Maggie of all people was going to be the baby whisperer? No matter what happens, I know that this year will be trying for all of us, and we’ll come out stronger because of it, because we always do. You, most of all, aren’t a quitter, and as infuriating as it can be, the girls definitely got you stubbornness – I guess it runs in all the Luthor girls, and as much as I want to strangle you all sometimes, I love you all for it. God, I hope you know how much I love you, because I really do. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about that coffee shop, or that lamppost, of the hole in the wall of your apartment. I was thinking that we should take the girls the next time we got there, so they can see all the places we fell in love. It might help explain everything to them, and it never hurts for us to see the places that mean so much to us. I still cherish every moment with you, and I know that I’ll cherish them all this year too.

 

            All my love,

            Kara xxx

 

 

            Lena blinked back tears as she got to the end of her letter, and when she looked up at Kara, she realized that her wife was crying, the tears freezing slightly as they slid down her face, and Kara sniffed as she finished reading the one Lena had written for her. A few moments later, she let out a choked sob, and Lena had her arms wrapped around Kara’s shoulder, pulling her into a comforting embrace and cradling her in her lap. Pressing her lips to Kara’s hair, Lena closed her eyes, swallowing the lump in her throat as she murmured quiet reassuring things to her. Lena didn’t know what part of the letter had hit her the most, so she didn’t know what to reassure her about, but she kept on whispering soothing things to her anyway, just holding her closely and thinking about how maybe getting tipsy and reading emotional letters with everything going on hadn’t been a great idea of their behalf, even if it was tradition.

 

            It was a few minutes before Kara stopped crying, her breathing hitching as she sat up and let out a shaky laugh, while Lena wiped her tears away for her, placing gentle kisses to her cheeks and caressing her cheekbones with the delicate brush of her thumbs gliding across them. “Sorry,” Kara said, drawing in a shuddering breath, “I think I drank too much. What a way to start off the year, huh?”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena felt her eyes burn slightly – she hated seeing people she cared about crying, because then it made her want to cry, especially when it was Kara or the girls – and she forced a smile onto her face, even though she knew it didn’t reach her eyes. “Are you okay?”

 

            “I will be,” Kara said, “your letter was just very sweet, it caught me off guard.”

 

            “Am I not always sweet,” Lena quietly laughed, brushing Kara’s hair out of her face, and delicately kissing the tip of her cold nose.

 

            Kara’s eyelids fluttered closed, her long lashes brushing her cheeks behind the lenses of her glasses, and a small smile curled the corners of her lips. Lena let her forehead fall against Kara’s, her hands balling up the fabric of the sleeves of the coat while she listened to the quiet panting of Artemis, who had come wandering through the maze to find them. “You’re always sweet, even when you’re hurting, and that’s what hurts so much,” Kara sighed, her voice sounding weary, “I wish there was more I could do for you.”

 

            “Please don’t think that you don’t do enough for me already,” Lena quickly told her, “everything wrong with me has nothing to do with you, and you’re the only thing keeping me up. I just want you to get better.”

 

            “I’m getting there,” Kara murmured, “I promise. It’s all going to be okay; I have a plan. I just need more time – just a little.”

 

            Pulling back, Lena placed a soft kiss to Kara’s lips, which parted slightly in surprise at the cold touch of Lena’s slightly chapped lips. It was needy and desperate, and Kara pulled Lena closer by the front of her coat, her mouth hot against Lena’s, with the lingering taste of alcohol on her breath. It only lasted a moment, and it wasn’t enough, but it was all they could give right now, shivering as they sat in the middle of the frozen maze. “Take your time,” Lena said, holding one of Kara’s hands tightly in both of her own, cradling it against her chest, “we have all the time in the world, there’s no need to rush. You’re right – everything will fall into place. I trust you to know your own mind well enough to know when the time is right, and I’ll be right beside you the whole time.”

 

            Nodding, Kara let out a small sigh, seeming to sag slightly in her seat, and Lena held her in the warmth of her embrace for a few more minutes, listening to the still quiet of the night, shattered by the occasional muffled shout from the house. They should be getting back; people would be leaving, and it was time for the party to start winding down. Climbing to their feet, they wandered back through the maze, their precious letters tucked into deep pockets, and an overexcited puppy nipping at their heels as their wellies crunched over the icy grass. Back inside, they shivered at the sudden warmth, shucking off their coats and exchanging wellies for going barefoot, and they snuck back into their own party, feeling tired but content. This year was going to be one of a lot of changes, even if they weren’t sure what those changes would be. In their absence things had changed inside too, and they both smiled as they took in the sight of Lily fast asleep on the sofa opposite Winn in their favoured sitting room, while Daisy had taken up a spot at the poker table in the games room with her aunts, leaving Lena to wonder if it was a good idea. Most of their closest friends were staying the night, and Lena wished Sam a goodnight as she watched her slip upstairs to the room where Ruby was already fast asleep, while Jess and her husband and kids all put their coats and shoes on, making Lena wish her friend wouldn’t leave again. She would’ve offered her a job on the spot, if it meant she would have a good assistant again – one who wouldn’t hit on her – but they had their own lives in a different city, and Lena respected that.

 

            It was nearing two o’clock by the time the last of the guests who weren’t staying were gone, and Kara and Lena were cleaning up bottles, with Eliza’s help, quietly chatting as they tried to keep the bottles from clinking together too much. Both women were tipsy, while Eliza was the responsible grandma who had been sending everyone to bed with tea or water – depending on how drunk they were – and draping blankets over passed out people, like her daughter’s friend’s and her granddaughter. They cleaned up as much as they could be bothered to, working in companionable quietness as they made the job easier for themselves in the morning. By the time they were done, their eyes were burning with tiredness, and they were all yawning. Everyone else had snuck up to bed, and they wished Eliza a quiet goodnight as they walked towards the living room, where their daughter was still fast asleep. They hated to wake her up, but they didn’t want to leave her on the sofa, especially with Winn’s drunken snores, and the fact that his fiancée – a younger blonde called Lyra – was stretched out at the other end of the sofa, and was liable to wake up vomiting if the last three parties were anything to go by.

 

            Knowing that both girls slept as deeply as Kara did, both moms had no qualms about gently coaxing her to her feet like a ragdoll, propping her up between them as they led her to the stairs while she mumbled – still mostly asleep, and relaxed by Kara’s soothing voice as she tried to coax her back to sleep. Lena was too short to be much use for helping but her daughter to bed, and she watched, feeling slightly impressed, as her wife lifted their daughter over her shoulder, and began to climb up the stairs. It would’ve been easier to just wake her up, but she looked so peaceful, and Kara was still taller than her – for the time being – and had no problems carrying her up, while Lena watched with faint amusement on her face, flipping light switches as she went. Opening Lily’s bedroom door, Lena walked inside, pulling back the blankets on the bed and shooting Kara an exasperated look at the gentle thud as she accidentally whacked Lily’s foot on the doorframe, wincing apologetically at Lena as she carried her inside. Pressing her lips together so she didn’t laugh, Lena shook her head as her daughter carried on sleeping – she was definitely Kara’s child – despite the quick knock to her foot, and she helped Kara carefully settle her down on the bed.

 

            With love and adoration in her eyes, Lena watched Kara gently tuck her daughter into bed, drawing the blankets up under Lily’s chin, the tender way she brushed dark curls out of her face, and the light press of her lips to her forehead, before she turned around, giving Lena a small smile. Both of them slipped back out into the hallway, and Kara crept down to Daisy’s room, opening the door a crack to make sure she was sleeping, before she walked over to Lena, threading their fingers together and pulling her towards the stairs. In their own bedroom, they helped each other out of their dresses and tumbled into bed, feeling their muscles ache and their eyes burn, and Lena rolled onto her back, pulling Kara towards her and letting out a small sigh of something that was almost relief as her wife nestled her head in the crook between Lena’s shoulder and neck, pressing a kiss to her pulse point, which made Lena squirm and laugh quietly at the ticklish feeling.

 

            “Happy new year,” Lena murmured, gently stroking golden curls in the dark, “I love you.”

 

            With a weary sigh, Kara made a small noise of content, her warm fingers drawing lazy patterns on Lena’s skin, “I love you too. Happy new year, Lena.”

Chapter Text

            They were a week into the new year, and in some ways things had been better, but in others, it was almost unbearable. The girls were still off for a few days, so they’d spent them together as a family, usually just the four of them, but sometimes with Alex, Maggie and Carter, or Lillian – Eliza had gone back to Midvale two days after the new year to be with her patients – and it had been great. Even Daisy was less brooding than normal as they went bowling, or to the cinema and the arcade, out for pizza and ice skating, and whatever else the girls wanted to do. It was fun, and it eased some of Lena’s stress and pain to laugh as Lily tripped on the ice and dragged Kara down with her, or when Daisy’s bowling was so pitiful that she had to have the bumpers up to stop getting gutterballs. It made her feel closer to them, and she felt some relief at the fact that no one was slipping away from her. It didn’t matter that her little girls were growing up, because they were still there, bickering over who got the last slice of pie or got to pick the next movie. Kara still hadn’t told them, and Lena didn’t broach the topic, knowing that Kara wasn’t ready yet, which was okay. She was still in therapy, which the girls didn’t know about yet, and some of the tension seemed to fade as she followed through with her promise to be more open in the new year.

 

            Lena tried to be more open for her sake too, but one week in and she was struggling. In the moments where they weren’t having fun as a family, and the girls went back to school, she was cooped up at home, with just her and her mom, and it was surprising how suffocating a mansion could be. She took up jogging instead, taking Artemis for runs everyday while her lungs burned and muscles ached, but the cold air hit her like a slap in the face, bringing her back to the reality of the situation. It was the only time she had alone to evaluate things, and it was surprisingly helpful to be outside, with the sharp coldness helping to clear her head. It didn’t stop her from snapping at Lillian all the time though, regressing back into the patterns that she’d followed as a teenager. Every comment from her mom was met with a snarky answer, a biting tone, or her own words, unnecessarily harsh, and Lillian didn’t take it from Lena, giving is straight back to her. It was like being a kid again, and Lena regretted asking her mom to come and live with them with every argument they had, and she knew that this all fell on her. Her and Lillian had rarely fought over the last twenty years – not seriously – and they wouldn’t have fought so much now, if Lena wasn’t in such a bad mood all the time. She couldn’t help herself though, because it stemmed from the overwhelming feeling of panic whenever she looked at her mom, feeling like she was on the verge of tears at any given moment, and when they weren’t fighting, Lena couldn’t help but pull away from her mom. It was self preservation, she told herself, a way for it to not hurt as much if she put distance between them both, like they used to have. It didn’t work.

 

            As Saturday rolled around, her mood worsened slightly, but there was a spark of hopefulness as she knocked on Daisy’s bedroom door at six thirty, opening it slightly and poking her head in. “Dais, wake up, sweetie,” Lena said, her voice carrying slightly as her volume rose. She should’ve known that wouldn’t work, and her daughter slept on, oblivious to the fact that Lena was standing there.

 

            Creeping further inside, she walked over to the bed, trying not to trip over anything in the dark, as the light from the hallway cut a narrow beam of light across the bedroom floor. Reaching out, Lena gently shook her daughter’s shoulder, staring down at the peaceful childish face and the long dark hair spilling around it on the pillows, but Daisy didn’t do anything except make a sound of protest. Smiling slightly to herself, Lena shook her a little more roughly, until eyelids slowly fluttered open, and a frown graced Daisy’s face as she took in the darkness. “What time is it?” she grumbled, rolling over and burrowing deeper under the blankets.

 

            “Six thirty,” Lena quietly replied, reaching out to stroke her hair, “you’ve got your first day of cadets. You have to be there at eight, remember.”

 

            “Mm,” Daisy mumbled, “it’s too early.”

 

            A voice from the doorway made them both jump, and Lena turned to see Kara silhouetted against the light. “You know, when I was in the army, we’d already have been up and about by now. If you think eight’s early, you might want to reconsider things.”

 

            Daisy groaned, pushing herself upright and yawning widely as she stretched. Smiling, Lena reached out and gave her hand a gentle squeeze, “come on, I’ll make you some breakfast before you go.”

 

            She climbed to her feet, leaving her sighing daughter to kick the blankets off her, shivering slightly at the cold air that found its way through her pyjamas, and walked over to Kara, giving her a quick kiss. “How long do you think she’ll last?” Kara quietly asked, watching as Daisy perched on the edge of the bed, blinking slowly as she tried to stay awake.

 

            “That depends on whose stubbornness she has,” Lena said, walking down the hallway with her fingertips gently resting against Kara’s lower back, “if she has yours … I’ll give her a month. She won’t enjoy the challenge the way you used to before … so, a month.”

 

            “And if she has yours?” Kara asked, arching an eyebrow as she stifled a yawn.

 

            Lena gave her a bitterly sad smile, “she’ll make it all the way just to spite us.” She saw the flicker of pain that flashed in Kara’s eyes, and Lena pulled them both to a stop, reaching up to cradle Kara’s face in her hands, her thumbs gently skimming her cheekbones as she let their foreheads fall together. “Hey, it’s okay. We’ll make sure nothing hurts her. I’ll bribe the cadets to make her life hell, or if that doesn’t work, I’ll bribe the doctor’s to fail her physical when she tries to enlist. It’ll be fine.”

 

            Wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist, Kara exhaled sharply, her breath warm against the side of Lena’s neck, “we both know you won’t interfere in her decision. You never did for me, and you won’t for her, even if she’s our daughter.”

 

            “I will,” Lena hoarsely replied, “I will this time. I should’ve last time- I should’ve-“

 

            “There was nothing you could’ve done,” Kara weakly laughed, “I had to finish that tour either way.”

 

            Squeezing her slightly, Lena kissed the side of her head, “she won’t have any tours to finish. Either we’ll find a way to stop her, or I’ll kill her myself for being such a complete idiot.”

 

            “The only way to stop her will be to shock her out of it,” Kara sighed, “I’ll have to tell them soon. Not yet, but-“

 

            “Soon,” Lena cut her off, her hands sliding down Kara’s arms and taking hold of her hands, giving them gentle squeezes, and she raised them both to kiss the knuckles, before dropping one and lacing their fingers together, “but right now, you look like you could use some coffee.”

 

            Kara laughed, her feet dragging as Lena led them towards the top of the staircase, and she dropped Lena’s hand in favour of wrapping her arms around her waist from behind, leaning her face against her back as she grumbled. “Ugh, yes, coffee. Please. You always know what I need.”

 

            “Twenty-one years does that my dear,” Lena laughed, “you better watch your step or you’re going to fall down the stairs again.”

 

            “I only fell because you dropped me,” Kara protested.

 

            “I only dropped you because you surprised me. I’m not exactly a fucking weight lifted, dear, some warning would’ve been nice,” Lena replied.

 

            A quiet laugh in her ear made Lena shiver and groan at the same time, and Kara’s lips were burning hot against her earlobe for a brief moment, “catch me!”

 

            “Kara-“ Lena started, but was cut off by a grunt as Kara threw herself onto Lena’s back, making her wife stagger under the surprising weight, and she let out a heavy side, “you’re like an overgrown child.”

 

            “Don’t act like that’s not why you fell in love with me, little miss ice princess,” Kara laughed, while Lena jostled her slightly, her hands splayed on the underside of Kara’s thighs to keep her balanced.

 

            “I won’t,” Lena promised, a smile flitting across her face as she staggered down one step, and then another, weaving from side to side as she tried not to drop Kara, who was bracing herself against the wall with one arm. They both couldn’t help but laugh at their childish antics, and they only made it halfway down the first flight when Kara slid off Lena’s back, her arms and legs unwinding from around her wife’s neck and waist as she laughed. Lena pouted slightly as she rubbed her back, “fucking hell, I think I need to see a chiropractor.”

 

            Scoffing, Kara gave her a fleeting kiss, before lacing their fingers together and pulling Lena along with her as she started walking downstairs, “oh please, I’m not that out of shape.”

 

            “Or out of it at all,” Lena said, biting back a smile as her eyes darted towards Kara’s lithe body, and she couldn’t help but appreciate how fit she was, but couldn’t help but make fun of her too, “well we can’t all be joggers like I am.”

 

            “You’ve been jogging for a week!” Kara spluttered, “that hardly makes you the expert on fitness.”

 

            “Excuse me, but I work out twice a week and you know it,” Lena said, elbowing her slightly, “I’m at the peak of fitness right now. Besides, I don’t think pie is an acceptable breakfast food.”

 

            With a quick laugh, Kara shook her head, her eyes crinkling at the corners while she smiled, “and you’re missing out.”

 

            “Whatever you say, darling,” Lena sighed, “what’ll it be today?”

 

            “Oo, how about pancakes,” Kara said, her face lighting up at the prospect. Lena didn’t mention that Kara had pancakes at least twice a week, so it shouldn’t have been that exciting, but she loved her enthusiasm. She loved everything about her.

 

            Rubbing circled onto the back of Kara’s hand, Lena smile softly, “pancakes it is.”

 

            An excited Dalmatian was waiting for them downstairs, and as Lena turned on the coffee machine, listening to the grinding sound with eagerness, she leant on the kitchen counters, watching as Kara sat on the floor with her legs stretched out before her, cooing to the puppy, who was excitedly trying to lick her face. There was something about watching Kara fuss over the dog that tugged at Lena’s heartstrings, and she thought it might’ve been the high pitched voice reserved for animals and babies, reminding her of when the girls were young. Every night, she’d listen as they lay in bed – first the three of them, and then the four – and Kara would reach aloud from the books, doing different voices for each character. Lena couldn’t bring herself to do it, finding it embarrassing, but Kara had no shame and it would send the little girls into hysterical fits of laughter, while Lena held them both close. After both girls were tucked into their own beds, they’d go back downstairs and sit in the living room, Kara with her head in Lena’s lap, and Lena with a book in hand, and then she’d read out loud for Kara – sometimes poetry, just like she had when they were younger. They still did that now sometimes, Lena reading to her at night, but she wished that she could go back to holding two little girls in her arms and listening to her wife make silly voices to make them all laugh.

 

            With a cup of coffee each, they stood in the kitchen, with Kara leaning against the counters, watching as Lena poured flour into a mixing bowl. They were talking quietly amongst themselves, with Kara eating a handful of blueberries, sneaking them from the container when she thought Lena wasn’t watching, even though she caught her every time, smiling as she shook her head. Opening her mouth, Lena leant towards Kara as she poured some batter into the frying pan, and a moment later she had a mouth full of blueberries, spluttering as she looked at Kara with a grim look on her face.

 

            “You’re such an asshole,” Lena mumbled around her mouthful, while Kara laughed, “I’m surprised we don’t have the worst behaved kids in the world with the way we behave.”

 

            “Hm, well Daisy’s teachers might tell you we do,” Kara mused, a faint smile on her lips as she put her purple stained fingers under a stream of hot water in the sink. A small frown crossed her face, and she shut the water off, hesitating slightly as she reached for a dish towel, “you don’t think … do you think everyone was right the other day? Do you think maybe she’s dating someone but doesn’t want to tell us?”

 

            Lena let out a surprised laugh, “why would she not want to tell us? It’s not like we ever told her she couldn’t date someone.”

 

            Shrugging, Kara’s mouth turned down at the corners, “I don’t know, but she’s been a lot more secretive over the past few months.”

 

            “She’s just shy, love,” Lena soothingly reassured her, before pausing slightly as she gave Kara a sheepish look, “it can’t hurt to ask though. I mean, what if she’s, you know …”

 

            “What?” Kara asked, her eyebrows furrowing as she looked at Kara in confusion.

 

            “What if she’s having sex,” Lena said, watching as Kara’s eyes widened behind the lenses of her glasses, “I mean … do you think we should talk to her about that? I know you said you handled all of that, but like … just to be on the safe side.”

 

            Kara opened and closed her mouth, looking aghast, “she’s seventeen, Lena! She’s not- she’s a child.”

 

            Pressing her lips together to stop herself from laughing, Lena shook her head slightly, “there’s such a thing as teen mother’s, Kara.”

 

            “Well we’re not having one!” Kara spluttered, reaching past Lena to flip the pancakes before they burnt. Chewing on her lip, she thoughtfully looked at the floor, before looking up to meet Lena’s green stare, “you know … it can’t hurt to ask.”

 

            Their daughter came shuffling in a few moments later, wearing penguin slippers and an old Harry Potter tshirt from the phase Daisy had gone through when she was thirteen, that was a tiny bit too small for her now. If anything, that made Lena shrink at the thought of her daughter being old enough to date, and she gave Kara a panicked, pointed look, getting one in return as Kara blanched at the thought of asking their grouchy teenage daughter is she was perhaps maybe dating anyone. Purposely pouring more batter into the frying pan, Lena avoided looking at Kara as she made sure the pancakes didn’t touch in the pan. A stool on the other side of the island counters was dragged out, grating against the tiled floor, and Lena peeks up, rolling her eyes when she watched her daughter steal some blueberries. Casually pouring a third cup of coffee, Kara slid it across the counter to Daisy, who raised an eyebrow in surprise at the rare cup of coffee she’s been allowed.

 

            “So, your mom and I were talking,” Kara started, and Lena squeezed her eyes shut, biting back a groan at Kara’s tactless way of asking, “and we were thinking that maybe we could all go to National City one weekend. The four of us.”

 

            “What for?” Daisy asked, stifling a yawn as she warily looked at them both.

 

            Kara shrugged, “you know your mom and I go every year, and we thought you and Lily might like to come with us this time. You haven’t been since you were … eight, was it?” She glanced at Lena who nodded, “we thought you might like to come and see everything again. Where your mom and I fell in love.”

 

            “Okay,” Daisy shrugged, “only if I get to hear more stories about mom being a badass.”

 

            “I wasn’t a badass,” Lena quickly replied, setting a stack of pancakes down in front of her and nudging a bottle of maple syrup in her direction, “I just used to get into a lot of trouble. It was all your Aunt Maggie’s fault, of course. We just thought you might like to see where we, uh, started dating.”

 

            “I was the first person your mom ever dated,” Kara hedged, her eyes darting over to Lena, “did we ever tell you that? I mean, of course we have. I never really dated much before meeting her either though, just a couple in college. Lucy was actually telling us about her boyfriends in high school the other day.”

 

            Cutting up her pancakes and shoving a mouthful in, Daisy was oblivious to the question that was burning on the tip of Kara’s tongue, and she choked on her food when it quickly fell from Kara’s lips as she rushed the words out. “Are you dating anyone?”

 

            “Mom!” Daisy spluttered, gasping slightly as she forced herself to swallow, and washed it down with some bitter coffee. Her face had turned red, and was slowly turning redder.

 

            Lena cleared her throat slightly, giving her an awkward smile, “your mom and I just want to know if you’re being safe.”

 

            “Safe?” Daisy echoed, her face turning redder as she understood the implied meaning behind the word, and she slid down in the stool slightly, almost as if she was hoping she could slide off the stool and underneath the lip of the counter. “Oh.”

 

            “I mean, if it’s a boy then we just want to make sure you don’t … you know, get pregnant or … well there’s a lot of things to protect against. Remember that talk we had? If it’s someone else, well it’s still important you’re safe either way,” Kara said, her cheeks slightly pink as she looked down at the counter.

 

            “I’m not dating anyone!” Daisy exclaimed, scowling as she hunched her shoulders and ducked her head, her dark hair obscuring her red face as she crammed another mouthful of food into her mouth.

 

            The three of them stood in silence for a few moments, Kara and Lena sharing mildly surprised, and very relieved looks, while Daisy hurriedly tried to cut her pancakes as big as possible so she could finish eating and escape the conversation. Clearing her throat, Kara nodded, “okay, well, um, that’s fine, obviously. If you, uh, well, if you do, you can tell us.”

 

            A hysterical laugh escaped their daughter’s mouth, and she jerked her head up, her cheeks only slightly pink now, and her blue eyes giving them an incredulous look, “well not now I won’t!”

 

            Lena pressed her lips together to stop herself from laughing, her shoulders shaking slightly as she flipped another pancake. Kara gave Daisy a sheepish look, and the conversation soon turned to other topics, while the three of them sat along the kitchen counters, making their way through the giant stack of food. By the time that Lillian made it downstairs, they were all laughing at a story Kara was telling, drinking their coffee and sitting with their empty plates in front of them. Greeting her mom, Lena climbed down off her stood and went to fetch her a cup of coffee, refilling hers and Kara’s in the process, while Kara quickly stacked the dirty plates and carried them over to the sink.

 

            Daisy spun her stool around, her face lighting up slightly as she looked at Lillian. “Hey, grandma, I have something to tell you,” she proclaimed, and all three women paused to listen to her, expectant looks on their faces, “so I know you’re going to start losing you hair soon, and I was thinking, maybe I could cut all mine off and donate it to one of those companies that makes wigs. Not so you can have my hair – that’s a bit weird – but so that they can make a wig for someone else when you buy yours.”

 

            She raised her eyebrows expectantly, spreading her hands as she waited or the reaction, and Lena glanced at Kara, who looked like she was about to tell her no, before Lillian started laughing. “There’s no need to do that, dear,” Lillian told her, “you have lovely hair, you don’t want to cut it all off.”

 

            Daisy tugged at the bottom of her hair, which was down to her waist, and she frowned slightly, “I won’t cut all of it off, just up to my chin maybe. Mom, you cut your hair that short, didn’t you? I’ve seen the photos.”

 

            Kara winced at the question, and Lena vividly remembered walking into the bathroom to find a chunk of blonde hair in the sink, and Kara holding a pair of scissors in her hands. It hadn’t exactly been done after a lot of thought, but rather as a spontaneous decision to help cope, and Lena couldn’t even tell her daughter that they were making their decisions for very different reasons. Still, she couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of pride at her daughter’s desire to help other people – she definitely got that from Kara – and Lena gave her a warm smile.

 

            “I, uh, yes, I did,” Kara hesitantly said, “but not to make wigs for cancer patients. I just … needed a change.”

 

            “But it’ll be good! Someone else can have hair again because of me! What if when grandma’s hair starts falling out, she can’t get one, and she has to walk around bald?” Daisy asked, and Lena flinched at the mental image of her mom looking sick. She didn’t look like she was sick yet – two weeks into her treatment, she just looked a little pale and drained, but other than that, she could’ve been tired from overworking herself. Lena much preferred that mental image, of Lillian being sick and not looking it, than the one of her looking like she was.

 

            Lillian laughed again, “you don’t have to worry about that, sweetheart. Besides, I already have a wig.”

 

            Biting back a sound of surprise, Lena looked at her, “you do?”

 

            “Of course I do,” Lillian scoffed, almost offended at the thought of her not being prepared, “what, you couldn’t tell? I thought you might’ve been being polite.”

 

            “What?” Lena flatly asked.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lillian sniffed disapprovingly, “my hair started thinning a week ago so I shaved it all off before it could start coming out in those god awful lumps.”

 

            Three mouths fell open in surprise, and Lena felt her eyes prickle with tears as she stared at her mom, taking in the silvery grey hair of what she now knew was a wig. It was a good one, and she wouldn’t have noticed at all unless she’d known. Her mom hadn’t told her at all, and Lena felt a flicker of anger well up at the thought of it. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

            Shrugging, Lillian took a sip of her coffee, and Kara gave Daisy a quick look, “honey, you need to get ready, you have to leave soon. Go and fetch your uniform and I’ll iron it for you.”

 

            Hopping down off her stool, Daisy sped of out the room with Kara close behind, not wanting to sit there with the tension building to an almost tangible feel to it. Lena’s face was all sharp lines and angles, but her eyes were shining slightly as she tried not to cry, because it wasn’t fair, none of it was, and her mom hadn’t even told her. With a sigh, Lillian gave her a grim smile, “I didn’t tell you because you would’ve wanted to help me do it, and it was something I had to do for myself. I shaved it on my own terms, when I wanted to, and before it started falling out properly, so I did it, not the treatment. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to have to see me without hair. God knows it looks awful – please never shave your head, darling, I’m afraid it only suits the Luthor men – and it would’ve upset you to see it, and you’ve already been snapping all week.”

 

            “I wouldn’t-“

 

            “Yes, you would’ve,” Lillian interrupted her, “you would’ve been upset again. You would’ve pulled away even further – don’t give me that look, I’m not stupid, Lena, and I know you’re trying to make it easier for when I die-“

 

            “If,” Lena tightly replied, “if you die.”

 

            Taking a deep breath, Lillian gave her a wan smile, “if I die. It’ll be easier if you hate me, right? Easier for you anyway. You can throw as many tantrums as you want, and quite frankly, I don’t give a shit, my dear, because at the end of the day, it is what it is. If you want to pick a fight with me every day, go right ahead – I’ll give it as good as I get, just like always – but if you think you’re making it easier for yourself, then you’re wrong. I’m trying to help you by keeping the bad things away from you, but if you’re just going to get upset over nothing, then what’s the point? I want to enjoy my time with my family, and maybe that’s for six months-”

 

            “Stop it,” Lena croaked, balling her hands into fists.

 

            “Maybe it’s in another twenty years,” Lillian continued, “either way, you need to suck it up and deal with it. So yes, I didn’t tell you I shaved my head, because you would’ve gotten worked up about it again and sulked for five hours. If you want me to trust you, and not treat you like a child, then stop behaving like one. I’ve got my second chemo cycle coming up, and if you’re not going to stop sulking and acting like I’m already dead, then don’t bother coming. God knows it’s depressing enough as it is, I don’t need your awful moods on top of that.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena drained her coffee and climbed to her feet, “well, sorry for caring.”

 

            “Lena, come on,” Lillian sighed, “are you really mad I didn’t tell you about a stupid wig?”

 

            “It’s not about the wig, mom,” Lena said, her voice cracking as she spoke, stopping next to the chair that Lillian was sitting in.

 

            With a small sigh and a pitying look, Lillian smiled slightly, “I know it’s not about the wig. You have to let go, sweetheart. You’re so angry all the time, just let go of it.”

 

            All of the fight drained out of her and Lena slowly sank down to her knees, her head falling against Lillian’s leg, while her hands clutched fistfuls of the cardigan her mom was wearing. “I can’t let go,” Lena sobbed, “if I let go of it, I’ll start- I’ll start thinking that it’s going to be okay.”

 

            She felt warm hands stroke her hair and give her shoulder a gentle squeeze as she sobbed into her mom’s leg, her shoulders shaking, and Lillian gently shushed her. “It will be okay, Lena, no matter what the outcome is. You’ll be fine. You’re too old to even need me now – you never needed me, even when you were younger.”

 

            “Of course I did! I do!” Lena tearfully exclaimed, “you’re my mom. It doesn’t matter how old I get; I still need you. Why did you have to come back? You could’ve- you could’ve left me alone. It would’ve been better if you did. It would’ve been easier.”

 

            “For you maybe,” Lillian quietly laughed, “I would’ve been alone – well, I guess I would’ve got a carer, I suppose – and the last twenty years would’ve been miserable. I would’ve missed you everyday.”

 

            “I’ll miss you everyday,” Lena said, her voice a low whine as she complained.

 

            She felt strong fingers spread along her jaw, spots of warmth on her skin as she shivered slightly on the cold tiled floor, and Lillian pulled her head up, giving Lena no choice but to stare up into her mom’s eyes. Lillian quietly tutted, wiping away Lena’s tears as she gave her a soft smile. “Hey,” she quietly said, “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere, not right now. Stop being angry – at me, at Kara, yourself, the world – none of us deserve it. This isn’t fair, I know that, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening. I’ve come to terms with it – it’s been a month now, and you need to be okay with it. I won’t be the first person you’ve lost. Hell, you even thought that you lost Kara. If you can survive that, you can survive losing anyone. The only person it hurts to lose more than the person you’re in love with is a child. Trust me, I know. As long as you have the kids, and Kara, you’ll be okay.”

 

            Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Lena nodded, her bottom lip trembling. She reached up and wiped at her eyes, her voice cracking when she spoke, “I’ll be okay.”

 

            Giving her a quick pat on the cheek, Lillian smiled, “good girl. You’re a Luthor – we’re strong people – now get up off the floor and get on with it. You have two businesses to run and a family to love.”

 

            Following Lillian’s orders, Lena numbly climbed to her feet, feeling slightly dazed and her body aching everywhere from weariness. She felt like she needed to go back to bed, despite the fact that she’d only been awake an hour or so. She watched as Lillian braced herself on the edge of the table and pushed herself to her feet, and Lena’s hands nervously fluttered around her, waiting to leap in and help her if it looked like she was going to sag. She didn’t though; her mom had always been strong, had never needed any help. Lena supposed that she got that off Lillian, and she was right about Luthor’s being strong people. It didn’t mean that they couldn’t get knocked down, but they never went down without a fight, and they never stayed down. They weren’t quitters, and Lena couldn’t just curl up into a ball and let life pass by while she waited to find out how long her mom had. She had things to do.

 

            Kara walked in a few moments later, a hesitant look on her face as she took in Lena’s red, puffy eyes, and Lena gave her a wavering smile as she took a deep breath. “I’m going back to work tomorrow.”

 

            “Wha- tomorrow?” Kara asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise, “are you sure?”

 

            “Mhm, my mom’s going back as well,” Lena said, glancing to Lillian, whose eyes widened slightly as a flicker of relief crossed her face. Staying cooped up inside wasn’t doing either of them any good, and the doctors had said that Lillian’s life would continue as always, except for the few days a fortnight where she would have to have her treatment. That meant work was fair game, and for the two workaholics in the house, it would be a means to help get things back on track. “Christmas is over, New Years is over; it’s time to get back at it. Maybe you could cut down on your hours at the lab and do alternate days?”

 

            Kara was speechless for a moment, looking at Lillian, before she looked back at Lena. “You want me to stay home?”

 

            Lena walked over to her, cupping one cheek as she looked up at her, giving her a small smile, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and we both need to work to keep us sane, but I think taking it slow might be a good idea. You’ve been overworking yourself because my mom hasn’t been there. You should take a break. I’d never ask you to stop working, but maybe doing three days a week wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

 

            Tilting her head head to the side, Kara narrowed her eyes slightly, a suspicious look on her face, “how many days are you going to do?”

 

            “Five,” Lena slowly replied, giving Kara a sheepish look, “I’ll just do half days on the days you have off. Meetings and stuff. Come on, Kara, you know we’re both feeling drained and stressed with … everything.”

 

            With a quick laugh, Kara wrinkled her nose as her eyes creased at the corners, “I think it’s a great idea.”

 

            “You do?” Lena asked, her eyebrows rising in surprise.

 

            “Of course! I’ve been trying to get you to cut down for ages, and if two half days is going to mean you’re working less, then it’s a good compromise,” Kara said, smiling at her, before biting her lip as a hesitant look crossed her face, “maybe you should just do three for now though. Just while you get back into things.”

 

            “What, and I’ll do two days?” Lillian piped up, arching an eyebrow.

 

            Shrugging, Lena gave her a slight smile, “I suppose you could do three as well. You, more than anyone, shouldn’t be overworking.”

 

            “Well it’s better than nothing,” Lillian mused, pursing her lips slightly, “it might help you stop being so moody.”

 

            “So we’re agreed then?” Lena asked, a wry smile on her face as she looked at her wife and mother. They both nodded, and Lena quietly laughed, “well, this is either going to work wonders for us, or one of us is going to kill someone.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara smiled, and then the smile seemed to freeze as she looked at the kitchen door. Turning to see what she was looking at, Lena felt her stomach drop as she looked at Daisy standing in her pressed uniform. She had polished black boots, the cuffs of her khaki jumpsuit tucked into them, and she was trying to get her wild curls to neatly go into a bun, with some frustration. Her mouth went dry, and Lena was struck by how very real the possibility of her daughter enlisting was – Daisy wanted this, but Lena had never felt so scared in her life. Kara was a shade paler than she had been, and her eyes were wide as she just stared blankly at her daughter.

 

            “Well, don’t you look smart,” Lillian said after a few moments of silence.

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena forced a smile onto her face, “it fits.”

 

            “Does it suit me?” Daisy asked, her eyes dancing with humour as she smirked slightly. Lena wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, to yell at her that no, it didn’t suit her. She wanted to make her change into anything else, but instead, she stiffly nodded, watching as her daughter’s face lit up with a smile.

 

            Eyes darting to Kara, Lena waited for her reaction, reaching out to slip her hand into Kara’s warm one and gave it a gentle squeeze. It seemed to unfreeze Kara, and she cleared her throat, pulling her hand out of Lena’s as she took a step forward, “here, let me do your hair.”

 

            Watching as Kara pushed Daisy down into a chair, Lena couldn’t help but feel the urge to cry again, but she fought it back. It was cadets – what was the worst that could happen? Her daughter was prone to frustration and was too irritable to last long in it anyway, so Lena had to remind herself that she had nothing to worry about. A month. She’d give it a month, before she started to panic. She watched the way Kara wound Daisy’s hair into a neat bun with the practiced ease of someone who had done it for years, and watched as Kara pressed a kiss to the top of her dark hair. Climbing to her feet, shiny new boots squeaking on the tiles, Daisy smiled at them all, her hands nervously running over the durable fabric of the overalls.

 

            “You should get going,” Lena quietly told her, glancing at the clock on the wall.

 

            “Wait,” Kara hoarsely said, slipping out of the room and returning a few minutes later with her polaroid camera. She made Daisy stand in the middle of the kitchen, the early morning light weakly shining in, and she snapped two quick photos, hiding them both in the pockets of her sweatpants, before giving her daughter a lopsided smile. “Okay, time to go. Have fun.”

 

            She slipped out of the room without another word, but Lena saw the way her hands shook as she clenched the camera, and the forced smile dropped from her face as her bottom lip trembled. Making her smile even brighter, Lena put a hand on Daisy’s shoulder, propelling her towards the kitchen door, with Lillian calling goodbye after her. Making her take a warm coat, fussing with the collar of her uniform, and double checking that Daisy had everything she needed in the bag slung over one shoulder, Lena wrapped her in a tight hug, half a head shorter than her, but feeling so protective of her daughter as she held her close.

 

            “Stay safe.” It was ridiculous to say it, but her and Kara always said it to them, and she couldn’t help herself, even as Daisy rolled her eyes. She watched as Daisy jingled her car keys and slipped outside, telling her she’d be home later. Lena hovered in the doorway until the car disappeared don the driveway, before closing it and falling back against the door, feeling a sharp pain in her chest as she squeezed her eyes shut. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Lena opened her eyes again, muttering to herself, “stop being ridiculous”

 

            Taking a deep breath, she wandered upstairs, looking for Kara, who was perching on the edge of their neatly made bed, staring down at the two polaroid’s in her hands, holding one out to Lena when she sat down beside her. Wrapping her arms around Kara, she kissed the side of her head, propped her chin on her shoulder and stared down at the photo, smiling slightly. Drawing back, Lena reached into the top drawer of the nightstand on her side of the bed, pulling out a white envelope and handing it to Kara. She’d known that watching their daughter go to cadets was going to be a hard thing for Kara to see, so she’d written her a letter for it, hoping that her words might be a little comforting. Exhaling shakily, Kara clutched the letter and photos to her chest, looking up at Lena with scared blue eyes.

 

            “I need some fresh air,” she said.

 

            “Okay, we’ll take the dog for a walk,” Lena suggested.

 

            “And I need a drink,” Kara blurted out, which was a little more surprising.

 

            Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, Lena let out a quick laugh. It was a little after seven in the morning, and way too early for Lena to be considering drinking, let alone Kara, but hey, it was nighttime somewhere. Climbing to her feet, Lena held a hand out and pulled Kara to her feet, stealing a quick kiss. “Then I’ll make us some Bloody Mary’s,” Lena said with a slight smile.

Chapter Text

            Lena’s first week back at work was long, and she was glad that Kara had encouraged her to ease in with three days first, because with all of the trouble at home, she found herself distracted and worried at work. Was her mom okay? Was Kara okay? Should Lena have been so quick to suggest that they all go back to work? She trusted that she knew herself well enough to know that she had to get back in her office, to sit behind her desk as she did paperwork in the large, cold room. Kara had cut two days off her usually full week though, which was some small relief, because at least they would both home more, and have time to sort things through, while still escaping the house to get some work done. It was a good compromise.

 

            It was hard not to miss Kara though. They’d spent more time together over the holidays because of their time off work, and Lena missed being home to kiss Kara when she walked in, as she’d gotten so used to doing. Now it was a string of texts and calls about who would be home first and what they’d get started on for dinner. Still, Lena couldn’t deny that the on Wednesday, when Kara made it home first, it was nice to be greeted with a kiss as soon as she walked in. No matter what, one of them would be home waiting for the other - there always had even and there always would be. As it neared lunchtime though, Lena couldn’t stop herself from picking up her phone and calling Kara.

 

            “Hello,” Kara’s cheerful voice greeted her.

 

            “Hi,” Lena quietly replied, her whole face lighting up at her wife’s bubbly voice coming from the other end. It was almost an unconscious thing, how Lena’s muscles unwound and the tension bled out of her at just one word off Kara. All she ever needed was one word to let her know that she was okay, and it took the edge off Lena’s worry. “I miss you.”

 

            A quiet laugh came from the other end, “it’s funny that you should mention that. I was missing you too.”

 

            Smiling as she typed away at her keyboard, Lena kept the phone clamped between her ear and shoulder. “Maybe we should start planning lunch dates like when we were younger.”

 

            “We had lunch date in our breaks on Monday,” Kara reminded her and Lena pouted slightly, even though Kara couldn’t see her.

 

            “I know, but I miss you. Besides, we used to have lunch dates almost every day when we were younger. Now we only have them once or twice a week because we’re so busy.”

 

            “Mm, compromise for getting all our work done at work,” Kara sighed, and Lena looked up as her door opened, “never mind, I’m here now though.”

 

            Laughing, Lena hung up the phone, watching as her wife shouldered the door wide open, a bouquet of flowers in hand, a phone pressed to her ear, and her arms full with her coat and keys. Climbing to her feet, Lena quickly crossed the room, heels clicking on the floor, and took the flowers out of Kara’s hands, reaching out to cup her chin and steal a kiss. Face lighting up, Kara’s eyes crinkled behind her glasses, and she tucked her hair behind her ear, shoving the phone into her bag and kissing Lena again.

 

            “Well this is an unexpected surprise,” Lena said, unable to keep the happy look off her face.

 

            “I’ve never been able to stay away from you,” Kara mumbled, as she went in for another kiss, “you’d have to kill me for that to happen.”

 

            “Don’t I know it,” Lena snorted, “even a fake death wasn’t enough.”

 

            She gave Kara a small, grim smile, reaching out to briefly stroke her cheek, before she walked over to the empty vase on the cabinet - a longstanding addition to Lena’s office because of the frequent bouquets of flowers brought to her office by her wife - and she filled it with water from a jug, before sticking the red and blush coloured flowers into the vase. Kara had seated herself at the desk, and Lena smiled slightly as she returned to her own seat, swiveling the chair as she appraised her wife. Kara’s shirts and cardigans had never failed to make Lena think she was just the sweetest thing she’d ever seen, and even after all this time, there was something endearing about Kara’s dorkiness, which had never gone away.

 

            “What’re you thinking about?” Kara asked, pushing her glasses up her nose, before leaning forward and resting her forearms on the edge of the desk.

 

            A smile curled Lena’s lips and she reached across the desk to pick up one of Kara’s hands, placing a kiss to the back of it, before rubbing away the red mark. “You. Always you.”

 

            Kara smiled shyly, lacing her fingers with Lena’s, “what about me?”

 

            “About why I fell in love with you,” Lena replied, her gaze softening, taking in the wisps of hair that framed Kara’s innocent face.

 

            Smiling wider, Kara raised her eyebrows slightly, “oh? Do tell.”

 

            “Hmm, it had something to do with those pastel cardigans, and that killer smile, maybe your dorky personality. Everything. Everything about you. I could never find a fault, not even with your faults.”

 

            “Have you ever fallen out of love with me? Even for a second?” Kara blurred out, tilting her head to the side while Lena spluttered.

 

            “No! Why would you even ask that?” Lena exclaimed, looking offended at the thought.

 

            Kara shrugged, even as she smiled, “it was raised in therapy the other day. It’s quite common to fall out of love, and then they usually fall back into it. I wondered if there was ever a moment where you just ... you thought that no, I don’t love her anymore, but then you found your way back.”

 

            Lena let out a loud laugh that seemed too loud for the room, and she was almost tripping over herself as she climbed to her feet, sending the chair rolling backward as she quickly rounded the desk and sank to a crouch before Kara. Reaching up, Lena pressed a cool hand to Kara’s cheek, smiling at the way that Kara’s eyes briefly fluttered closed as she leaned into the touch, covering Lena’s hand with her own. “You give me everything. Everything. I couldn’t imagine ever being without you. I mean, I can, and it’s a miserable, sad life, and it’s worthless without you. There’s not a single, solitary moment that I’ve thought that I don’t love you. God, even when we fight I just- I get mad because I love you. Every day I feel so grateful to be able to wake up in your arms, and to kiss you good morning and goodnight. To watch you smile and hear your laugh,” she felt her eyes prickle and couldn’t help but make a joke, “so if this was your way of telling me you’re leaving me, I’ve got some bad news, because I’m not letting you go.”

 

            A surprised laugh fell from Kara’s lips and she leant forward, her forehead resting against Lena’s and her warm breath on her cheek. Her response was slow, as if she chewed on each word before letting it fall from her mouth, “I would’ve- I would rather have died out there knowing that I was dragging myself back to you, than to ever think about leaving you.”

 

            She kissed Lena on the cheek, before pulling back, and Lena looked up at her with concern. “What brought this on?”

 

            “Nothing,” Kara laughed, “I was just curious and I knew you’d tell me the truth. I mean, I didn’t think you had, but I wanted to know, just in case there was one moment-“

 

            “None,” Lena swiftly replied, her joints cracking as she climbed to her feet, “not since the moment we’ve met. You’ve been infuriating sometimes. God, there are times I could’ve strangled you! But I would’ve been strangling you out of love.” Kara laughed, her nose wrinkling slightly and her eyes creasing at the corners, and Lena smiled in response. “Now, come here. I don’t like all this talk of not being in love. It’s depressing.”

 

            Kara let Lena pull her to her feet, wrapping her in a tight hug, and Lena closed her eyes as she breathed in the smell of Kara’s perfume and the faint smell of mint. Withdrawing, Lena gave her a quick kiss, before walking over to the phone on her desk and pushing a button. Her new assistant picked up, and Lena was brusque as she gave her orders, “cancel my next appointment, please.”

 

            “Wha- Lena! You can’t cancel your appointments. You’ve only been back three days, and I have to go back to work as well,” Kara exasperatedly told her, glancing down at her watch.

 

            Smiling widely at her, Lena crossed over to the coat stand, pulling on hers and picking up her handbag, while Kara hurried to put her own coat back on, before taking the hand Lena held out to her. “I own the company, darling, and my mom owns the other one, so we can do whatever we please. Besides, when my wife comes here asking if I’ve ever fallen out of love with her, it makes me more inclined to skip so I can spend some time with her and make sure she knows that I do.”

 

            Laughing, Kara rolled her eyes, “I never doubted you for a second.”

 

            “Still, we’re doing something fun,” Lena said, quickly squeezing her hand, “and family will always come before work, and you-“ she punctuated her sentence with a kiss, “are the best family I could ever have dreamed of.”

 

            “Okay, well, where are we going?” Kara asked.

 

            “It’s a surprise,” Lena said, giving her a quick wink, before fixing the collar of Kara’s coat and leading them both out of the office.

 

---

 

            “The pier?” Kara asked, looking out at the grey water and the long stretch of old planks stretching out over it. It was windy and Kara shielded her face with a hand as she looked around at the mostly empty promenade spread out before them.

 

            “Mhm,” Lena said, smiling slightly, shutting the car door behind her and locking it. Rounding the car, she looped her arm through Kara’s, “now, our first first. What was it?”

 

            “Hotdogs,” Kara instantly replied, “we went to the movies. We got hotdogs afterwards, and I got it all over my face. It’s a miracle you even wanted to date me.”

 

            Lena laughed, slowly walking towards the start of the pier, “I still thought you were beautiful - I still do - but yes, hotdogs. And what was the second?”

 

            Kara paused for a moment, frowning slightly as she pursed her lips, “are you testing me? You know I have albums full of every moment, so I’m going to get all the questions right. It was the carnival, near the pi- oh. But there’s no carnival at this pier.”

 

            Kissing her on the shoulder of her coat, Lena smiled, “it’s not a test, and yes, you’re right, we’re at the wrong one. You know what they do have though? Hotdogs and arcade games.”

 

            Laughing, Kara let Lena lead them over to the nearest hotdog vendor, ordering them both one, and, hand in hand, they slowly walked down the pier, watching seagulls wheel around against the grey sky, fighting over fries and garbage. It wasn’t too cold that day, but when Lena shivered slightly as they sat down on a bench at the end of the pier, Kara wrapped an arm around her shoulders. The sea was choppy, the grey waves rushing towards them as they stared out at the freighter ships in the bay, looking so small that they could’ve been toys. Lena smiled as Kara crumpled her hotdog wrapper and immediately pulled her camera out to snap some pictures. When she turned it on Lena, she gave her wife and exasperated look and flipped off the camera, making Kara laugh as she snapped a photo, but then Kara tickled her, snapping one of Lena with her head thrown back, her hair being tossed around by the wind.

 

            They spent all of their allotted lunchtime sitting on the bench, talking about anything that came to mind, but staying away from sensitive topics. This was a moment for the two of them to laugh and love each other without the stress of the rest of their lives, and as they walked back up the pier, to the small building with the arcade games, they stopped at another stall, buying candyfloss and soft pretzels. Their cheeks were rosy from the cold, and their eyes were bright as they walked into the arcade.

 

            Kara won at the arm wrestling machine, the metal arm beat by her wife’s lean muscles, and Lena stubbornly played Pac-Man until she had the new hi-score, while Kara cheered her on. They played ski-ball and a shooting game, and pinball, and then they came up one an old love tester machine and both laughed. “Well it would be rude not to,” Kara said, fishing a quarter out of her pocket.

 

            “Very rude,” Lena agreed, holding onto one of the metal rods as Kara held onto the other one. They watched as the machine lit up all the way to the top, and they both turned to look at each other, smiling with amusement. “So I guess it’s still meant to be then.”

 

            “Or it’s just measuring the moisture in our hands,” Kara mockingly said.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena gave her an exasperated look, “we weren’t even dating then! Besides, I will readily admit that I was wrong.”

 

            Cupping a hand to her ear, Kara smiled, “sorry what was that? Did you just- no, I don’t believe it. Lena Luthor, wrong?”

 

            “Ah, see, Lena Luthor was never wrong,” Lena corrected her, “Lena Danvers-Luthor on the other hand ...”

 

            “Whatever you say,” Kara laughed, looping her arm back through Lena’s as she cuddled up next to her. “You know, I haven’t felt so young in ages.”

 

            Reaching up to gently stroke Kara’s hair, Lena kissed her on the cheek, “I know, that was the point.”

 

            “So what’s next? The zoo?” Kara asked, her eyes sparkling with amusement, “will there be otters to hold hands with?”

 

            Lena laughed, shaking her head as she smiled, looking ahead at the thin layer of fog that had started to roll in. “You know, that’s not the reason I remember that day so well. I mean, it was fun, and a good first experience, but that wasn’t why.”

 

            Tilting her head to the side, Kara looked at her with a glint of curiosity in her eyes, “oh? What was?”

 

            “You held my hand. And I know you held my hand before that, for a few moments, but that day ... you thought I wanted to hold your hand, and you got so flustered when I said I meant the otters, but we held hands anyway. We held hands all day, and even when we had to stop for some reason or another, I always found my hand back in yours, and it was thrilling. Just holding your hand ... I never wanted to let go, and I still don’t.” She reached for the hand of the arm that wasn’t looped through hers, kissing the back of it and giving Kara a smile so breathtaking that it made her heart skip a beat.

 

            “We should’ve brought the girls; it would’ve been nice,” Kara sighed wistfully, thinking about the fun day they could’ve asked.

 

            Arching an eyebrow, Lena smiled at her, “you know, technically we could say that there’s an emergency or we have to take them to the dentist or something, and the four of us could do something fun.”

 

            “Lena Danvers-Luthor, are you suggesting we all play hooky?” Kara gasped.

 

            Shrugging, Lena’s smile grew wider, “it’s Friday afternoon. Let’s sneak the girls out of school and go to ... I don’t know, the aquarium?”

 

            “Now I really feel young,” Kara mused, “alright then, my little rebel, let’s do it. On one condition.”

 

            “Oh?”

 

            Kara wrinkled her nose as she smiled down at Lena, “we get Chinese for dinner.”

 

            “Oh well now you know I’m down for that,” Lena laughed, giving Kara’s arm a squeeze as she pressed up close to her, “I could never say no to you.”

 

---

 

            Everything was fine as they drove towards the school, with Kara singing loudly along with an eighties station on the radio, while Lena laughed, shaking her head and occasionally groaning at the shameless way that her wife was singing. They were still laughing when they parked at the school, Kara smiling down at Lena as they walked towards the front doors of the school, Kara’s hand resting gently on Lena’s lower back. And then it dropped, and Lena was still looking up at Kara, whose face had gone white as she froze in her tracks. Following her line of sight, Lena felt a burning anger well up inside at the figure of a man stood frozen across from them. It was Mike.

 

            Taking a step towards him, her heels clicking dangerously on the pavement, Lena looked at him with thinly veiled anger and slight disgust. “How dare you come here. This is our children’s school. You’d better leave now, before I call the cops.”

 

            Mike tore his gaze away from Kara, focusing on Lena, who had taken up a defensive position a few steps in front of her wife, arms folded across her chest and a stubborn tilt to her jaw that warned him not to come any closer, or even talk to Kara. His mouth fell open to reply, but he was cut off by another voice.

 

            “Thanks sweetie!” Principal Ardeen breathlessly said, rushing down the front steps of the school and holding her hands out to Mike. He had a laptop tightly clamped under one arm, and was blinking away the shock as Imra spoke to him, her hands held out expectantly, “Mike?”

 

            She followed his gaze, her eyes landing on Lena’s furious face, and Kara’s extremely pale face, and she smiled hesitantly. “Mrs Danvers-Luthor’s. May I help you both?”

 

            “Wha- you two know each other?” Lena spluttered, looking from Mike to the headmistress.

 

            Imra gave Lena a puzzled look as she smiled in confusion, “oh, this is Mike Matthews, my husband.”

 

            “Husband?” Lena hoarsely replied, her mouth feeling dry as she looked down at the rings on the woman’s hand. She’d only been principal at the school for a few months, and Mike had said he hadn’t been in Metropolis long, and it made sense. He wasn’t here for Kara, he was here to see his wife at work, and he looked very caught off guard as he stood there frozen, looking at pale as Kara. Neither of them had been expecting this.

 

            “I’m sorry, do you two know each other?” Imra asked, a wary look on her face at the obvious tension in the wintery air.

 

            Mike turned his head in her direction, but his eyes were locked on Kara’s face, and he ran a hand through his short hair. “Imra, this is Kara. She’s the soldier who saved my life.”

 

            “Oh. Oh, you mean- you’re the one?” Imra softly exclaimed, looking at Kara with surprise, “how did I not- oh, I feel so stupid.”

 

            “Excuse me,” Kara hoarsely replied, squeezing her eyes shut and shaking her head slightly, “I, uh, I have to ... go.”

 

            Whirling around, Lena looked stricken as she stared at Kara, who slowly turned around like she was in a dream, stumbling slightly as she walked towards the car. Glancing back at Mike, who was still frozen while his wife laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, and she shot him a dark look, biting back some harsh words as she turned back around and rushed after Kara, who was already opening the passenger side door and climbing into the car.

 

            Rushing around the hood of the car, Lena yanked open her door and swiftly climbed into the driver’s seat, reaching for Kara while she pulled the door shut behind her at the same time. “It’s okay,” Kara quickly told her, her voice cracking as she spoke, running a hand over her face as she drew in a shuddering breath.

 

            “Kara,” Lena said, her voice wavering slightly, her hands running over the sleeve of Kara’s coat in a desperate attempt to calm her down.

 

            “I’m fine,” Kara choked out, squeezing her eyes shut as she clenched her hands into fists.

 

            Lena felt a bubble of panic well up inside, and she fought it back as she rubbed soothing circles on Kara’s back, gently guiding her forward, until she was curled in on herself, her head in her hands. Leaning as far across the console as she could, Lena tried to hold Kara as best as she could, feeling her shudder beneath her fingertips. “What do you want me to do? Do you want to go and see your therapist? What do you need?” Lena babbled, trying to keep calm, for Kara’s sake.

 

            Shaking her head, Kara abruptly sat upright, and Lena froze as Kara cradled her face in her hands, tenderly running her thumbs over Lena’s cheekbones. Her blue eyes were wide and scared, but her lips curled up into a small smile. “No. No therapy. I just- I want to go home.”

 

            Nodding her head, Lena swallowed her concerns and the engine purred to life, and she pulled out of the parking space. The music seemed too loud in the small interior of the car, without Kara’s energetic singing to accompany it, and Lena jabbed at the off button, her eyes darting to Kara every second or so to make sure she was okay. Her hands were tightly clenched in her lap and her posture was rigid, but she was breathing evenly and staring out the window as building flashed past, soon giving way to neighbourhoods, and then the countryside. Up the driveway and into the garage, Lena turned the car off and turned to Kara, who quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and was climbing out of the car before Lena could stop her.

 

            Chasing after her, Lena followed her upstairs, ignoring the happy dog who danced around her feet, seeking attention. Following the echoes of Kara’s footsteps up to their bedroom, Lena walked in and was immediately pushed against the door, which slammed shut as she fell against it, Kara’s lips frantic and hot against hers as she struggled out of her clothes. It wasn’t until Kara was in her underwear and Lena was lacking a shirt that they stopped, and Kara’s thoughts seemed to catch up to her. Lena could see the hesitation in her eyes, the lack of desire there as she looked at her wife, and she stamped down the disappointment that welled up. Too often when Kara was having a bad spell did Lena find herself craving her wife’s touch, only to be left hanging as the PTSD chased away any urges Kara had to sleep with her. She didn’t blame her, of course, and she never had, but Kara always felt guilty, and Lena saw it in her eyes as Kara drew back.

 

            “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice cracking as she fell to the floor and started scrambling for her clothes, gathering them up into a bundle in her arms.

 

            Sinking down before her, Lena reached out and stilled Kara’s hands, softly shushing her and taking the clothes out of her arms. Cupping her chin in her hand, Lena tilted Kara’s head up, ducking her head so she could peer at her wife’s face. “Hey, how about a hot bath, and a nice massage, and then we’ll see about ordering that Chinese, hm?”

 

            Shoulders sagging in what was almost relief, Kara exhaled forcefully, a tired look on her face as she sank all the way to the floor, her knees knocking against the wood as she tipped forward, her hands scrabbling at Lena’s back as she buried her face in the side of her neck. Kissing her blonder hair, Lena ran her hand up and down Kara’s back, holding her close for a moment, before pulling back and climbing to her feet, pulling Kara up with her. Leading her over to the bed, Lena set her down on the mattress and slipped into the bathroom, turning the taps on and adding some scented oils to the hot water as it began to steam, slightly fogging up the mirrors in the chilly room.

 

            They took their time in the bath, and Lena slowly scrubbed every inch of Kara clean, trying her best to help her relax as she kept up a steady stream of questions to take her mind off Mike. Her distraction was obvious though, but Lena didn’t stop, hoping that she could keep Kara grounded; the girls would be home soon and they would know if something was wrong - especially Daisy. Kara seemed to be holding on though as she lay back against Lena’s chest, the steam from the bath making her hair damp as it curled and stuck to the nape of her neck, and Lena trailed a like of kisses along one of her shoulders. Once they got out, Lena rubbed a nice smelling lotion into Kara’s skin, before fetching he a pair of warm pyjamas and some fluffy socks. Looking a little less pale, Kara sat on the edge of the bed, watching Lena get changed into her own clothes, before joining her on the edge of the bed. It was a few moments before either of them moved, but then Kara sighed heavily, rubbing her tired eyes and tried to ignore the dull throb of a headache that was forming. “Can you read to me?”

 

            “Of course,” Lena softly replied, immediately reaching for the closest book on the nightstand. They both moved to the top of the bed, and Lena draped a blanket over them both, cradling Kara to her chest while she fumbled with the book, opening up to a random page and reciting the first poem she came to.

 

            It wasn’t long before they were both fast asleep, their breathing even and an abandoned book laying in Lena’s lap, the pages slightly crumpled from where it had slipped out of her hands as she fell asleep. Those hands now held onto her wife, and they didn’t stir until the front door opened and closed, and heavy footsteps came upstairs, shaking them out of sleep. Groaning and shaking away sleep, they listened to the noise of their girls coming home from school, still laying in each others arms as Lena absentmindedly trailed her fingers up and down Kara’s arm.

 

            “Mom, we’re home!”

Chapter Text

            The next morning, they were all eating breakfast together, and Kara had even managed to coax Lily out of bed early with the gift of some bacon, but neither of them looked too happy about being up that early. Daisy had cadets again – her second week there – and she was a little less grouchy than she normally would’ve been about being up before eleven on the weekend, which didn’t bode well for Lena’s plan. Lillian listened with interest, as the only one who could manage to talk about the military without feeling bitterly upset, or having no clue what she was talking about. Lena silently sulked as she listened to her daughter talk, stabbing at the frittata on her plate with a little too much resentment.

 

            “So last week they told us we have this real soldier coming in today,” Daisy excitedly said, “like an actual real one who served in Afghanistan. He apparently did three tours, and he’s in town and they asked him to come and tell us a bit about his job.”

 

            “Sounds like you’ll learn a lot,” Lillian said, her eyes darting to Lena’s and gaze softening slightly in pity.

 

            Smiling brightly, Daisy nodded happily, “mhm, he’s supposedly like this big war hero too. He must’ve seen a lot of combat, and probably killed a lot of people to be awarded that heavily. Hey mom, did you- did you ever kill-“

 

            “Don’t ever ask me that question,” Kara sharply cut her daughter off, a haunted look in her blue eyes as she tightly gripped her knife and fork in her hands. Everyone was caught off guard by the harsh words, and Daisy frowned slightly in confusion, her fork halfway to her mouth.

 

            “I didn’t me-“

 

            Lena reached out to gently touch Daisy on the arm, while Lily shoved a forkful of eggs into her mouth, looking between them all, trying to gauge the situation as she ate her breakfast. At the gentle touch on her arm, Daisy cut off, pouting slightly as she slumped in her chair. Of course she hadn’t meant anything by her comment – she was just curious, and had spoken thoughtlessly – but today was a bad day to have asked. Kara had spent all of the night before in bed, and Lena had ordered the promised Chinese food and the two of them had watched old movies together, while Lillian helped the girls with their homework and played scrabble with Lily while Daisy played the piano. It had been a quiet night, but this morning, nothing had changed, and Kara was still as reserved as yesterday, uncharacteristically staying quiet through breakfast. Of course it had to do with Daisy’s excitement at her second week of cadets, but it was largely due to her surprise run in with Mike yesterday. It had shaken her more than she liked to admit, but not as much as it had the first time, and Lena was extra attentive this morning, well tuned to picking up on the non-verbal cues that signified Kara’s moods.

 

            “Lily, how would you like to go to the museum today, sweetheart?” Lillian piped up, abruptly changing the topic, and Lily perked up at the mention of the museum and excitedly agreed. Lena threw a grateful look at her mom, who gave her a tiny nod in acknowledgement, and slowly exhaled in relief at the thought of heaving some alone time with Kara to help her sort through things. It would make it easier for them to talk without being interrupted by Lily asking if they had carrots to go and feed to the horses, or if Lena would come and paint her nails for her. Not that Lena cared at all – she loved to spend as much time with the girls as possible, because the weekends, mornings and evenings were all they ever really had together – but today wasn’t going to be easy on Kara. Lena had found that the hardest part about being a parent was keeping it together for the sake of the kids, especially when they didn’t understand what the problems were and just needed their mom, but sometimes you just needed to fall apart, and Lillian was giving Kara that option today.

 

            Breakfast was tense for the rest of the morning, but Kara numbly kissed Daisy goodbye on the cheek and told her to stay safe, and Lena could see the guilt on both of their faces for unintentionally upsetting each other. Kissing her daughter goodbye and fixing the collar of her jacket, Lena watched Daisy walk outside, and turned to Kara, cupping her cheeks in her hands and reaching up to give her a gentle kiss. “She didn’t mean anything by it,” Lena quietly said, “and saying no wouldn’t be a lie.”

 

            “Their deaths are on me,” Kara hoarsely replied, “and that’s okay. I came to terms with that a long time ago.”

 

            “No one blames you for that,” Lena assured her, her arms encircling Kara as she held her close, feeling Kara sink into the warm embrace as she let some of the tension bleed out of her.

 

            “No, they just reward me instead,” Kara bitterly replied, giving Lena a quick squeeze before pulling back. She gave her a sad smile and a quick kiss on the tip of her nose when she saw the concerned look in Lena’s eyes, and Lena gave her a silent searching look, almost begging for her to open up more about it. They’d been trying so hard to talk about things, but sometimes they hit a wall, and this was a big one for Kara – the biggest – and Lena knew that it would take some time to jump that hurdle, but right now she just wanted Kara to vent. To let go of some of the pain she’d bottled up for so long. “I’m okay, Lena. You don’t have to worry.”

 

            Lena let out a slightly strangled laugh, picking up one of Kara’s hands and pressing a kiss to the back of it as she held it tightly in her own, “I worry about you every moment that I’m awake. Sometimes I worry about you in my dreams too.”

 

            Running her free hand through her awry hair, Kara gave her another small smile, “then I guess that makes two of us. Come on, let’s go and see if Lily wants to take Artemis for a walk with us before your mom takes her out.”

 

            “Okay,” Lena readily agreed, giving her hand another quick squeeze before they wandered back to the kitchen to find their youngest daughter rifling through the cupboards for food, while an excited puppy sat at her feet, waiting for the snacks that Lily was sneaking to her. Kara and Lena both laughed as they shook their heads; everything would be okay, because they all still had each other, and for the girls, nothing had changed.

 

---

 

            Lena was wrapping up some paperwork, having left Kara to sift through a stack of the most recent photos she’d taken, smiling whenever her phone vibrated with another photo of the polaroid’s that Kara was going through. They were all sweet or funny, and Lena would set her pen down to pick up her phone and look at it, before sending a reply back. They’d spent the rest of the morning tidying up around the house, just the two of them dancing around the topic at hand while they worked together to tidy up the mess of two teenagers who had a bad habit of leaving their things strewn around the massive house. The familiarity of something as simple as cleaning helped to settle Kara’s twitchy nerves, and with the sound of music drifting from the record player in the corner of the living room, they’d made quick work of the place, and Kara had seemed to be better. Lena still watched her closely though, trying not to smother her, but still reaching out to gently touch her arm, or silently give her a questioning look. They spoke a little about yesterday, and Lena suggested a quick trip to the therapist again, but Kara shot that idea down again.

 

            It was a tricky thing to handle, because it had all happened so long ago for Kara, and she’d mostly come to terms with everything and moved on with her life, but sometimes, when things came back to shake her up, she couldn’t help but feel like she was still in that headspace. Her PTSD never came back in full force, and her flashbacks were fewer than her panic attacks, but they still occasionally came. Those were the worst parts, because she couldn’t stop those, but after decades of practice, her and Lena both knew how to manage them and keep her grounded, which was some small comfort. She’d been lucky yesterday, and had swallowed her panic before she’d let it get the best of her, and had let Lena take care of her and keep her grounded, but Kara would be lying if she said it hadn’t left her rattled. Lena could see it in the tired circles under her eyes, even though Kara hadn’t woken up at all last night, and in the slightly hunched set of her shoulders, as if the weight of all of her memories were dragging her down. Photography was the only way she could unwind right now, and so, Lena had left her to it when Kara had assured her that she was fine, and gone about her own business so that she could stay on top of things.

 

            She was in the middle of a phone call with Sam, who was calling about Lily’s soccer game with Ruby tomorrow, as well as about some business, when raised voices came from downstairs. Frowning, Lena pushed her chair back, rolling away from the desk and climbing to her feet, trying to focus on Sam’s words and the loud ones from downstairs, as she made her way to the door. “Hey, Sam, um, can I give you a call back? I’ve, uh, I need to check on something quickly.”

           

            “Of course!” her friend replied, “I’ll see you tomorrow anyway, so we can talk then if you’re busy for the rest of the night. Say hi to Kara and the girls for me.”

 

            “Yeah, sure,” Lena replied, “bye, Sam.”

 

            Hanging up, Lena frowned as she pulled open the door to her office and stepped out into the hallway, walking towards the top of the stairs. She was almost bowled over by her teary-eyed daughter, who shot her a venomous look as she bumped past, and Lena stumbled slightly, caught off guard by the sudden hostility. Reaching out, she grabbed Daisy’s arm and jerked her around, “hey, what’s going on?”

 

            Her daughter let out a sharp laugh, tearing her arm out of Lena’s grip and all but running upstairs. Mouth open in surprise, Lena was torn between going after her daughter or going to ask Kara what all the shouting was about. Lily and Lillian were already home, and Lena wasn’t sure who the shouting had been between, but it looked like it was more serious than just the two girls’ usual bickering and arguing. Choosing Kara, Lena turned around, making it down two steps before she saw Kara racing up towards her, her face white and her eyes red and full of tears. “What happened?” Lena immediately asked, quickly jogging down the next few steps and reaching out for Kara, wiping away the tears on her cheeks as she felt her panic well up inside.

 

            “She knows,” Kara choked out, “sh-she knows about me.”

 

            Lena felt a lump form in her throat at the obvious fear in her wife’s eyes, and the slightly accusing look there too, and she swallowed the lump as she forced herself to reply, “how?”

 

            “Someone from cadets, I guess,” Kara choked out, “I don’t know, she won’t talk to me. She just- she came in and she wouldn’t even look at me, and then she said-“ drawing in a shuddering breath, Kara shook her head, looking at Lena with panicked eyes, “I need to talk to her.”

 

            Taking her wife’s hand in her own, Lena turned around and started dragging her upstairs, rounding the first set of stairs for the second set, and Lena dropped Kara’s hand in favour of a comforting hand on her back as they walked down the hallway. Outside their daughter’s closed door, Lena hesitated, raising a hand to knock. There was no response, and Lena sighed, “Dais, come on, we just want to talk to you.”

 

            With no response, and a few banging noises, Lena turned to Kara and shrugged, turning the handle and pushing the door open. Lena’s eyebrows flew open in surprise, taking in the mess of clothes being roughly pulled from the closet and drawers, while her sobbing daughter shoved handfuls into a duffle bag. “Wha- Dais, what’re you doing?” Lena sighed, stepping inside with Kara close behind her.

 

            “I’m g-going,” her daughter stammered as she choked on a sob, “I don’t want t-to stay here anymore.” Feeling a sharp pain in her chest, Lena took a step closer, reaching out to gently touch her on the shoulder, jerking back as her daughter whirled around as if she was going to lash out at her. “Don’t touch me,” she hoarsely replied.

 

            “You haven’t even told us what’s wrong,” Lena softly said, “talk to us, please.”

 

            “No, I don’t want to talk to you,” Daisy snapped, “you lied to me. Didn’t you?”

 

            Biting her lip, Lena turned slightly to look at Kara, who was staring at their daughter with a pained look on her face. There was a pleading look on her face, like she was trying to ask her to understand, and she drew in a deep breath as she stepped towards her. “We’ve never lied to you. There are just things that we never told you.”

 

            “Like that you died,” Daisy said, her voice cracking as she looked at Kara.

 

            Kara swallowed thickly, and Lena reached out to lay a gentle hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze as more tears spilled onto Kara’s pink cheeks, “I’m right here.”

 

            “But you did, didn’t you? You were d-dead for two weeks, that’s what they thought,” their daughter asked, a look of betrayal on her face as she looked at her mom’s standing before her. Lena was silent – she didn’t know what to say, and this was Kara’s talk to have with her – and she clung to Kara, keeping her upright and being a lifeline for her as she felt her wife draw in a shuddering breath.

 

            “That’s what they thought,” Kara said, stressing the word thought, “but I was … fine. I am fine.”

 

            “You’re lying again!” Daisy hysterically laughed, “the past few weeks, you’ve been acting weird, and th-the panic attack in the car. Did you really think I was that stupid? Were you ever going to tell me?”

 

            Kara quickly nodded, clenching her teeth together as she grimaced like she was in physical pain, “of course! We were- we were waiting for the right time.”

 

            Another sharp laugh, and Daisy started stripping off her cadet’s uniform, tossing the muddy overalls onto the bed and kicking the boots off to land where they came to a stop. Pulling on some black jeans and a faded grey t-shirt that Lena recognized as her own.  Zipping up the bag, Daisy turned around, crossing her arms across her chest as she glowered at her parents. “When was the right time, mom? You had seventeen years to tell me. You couldn’t find one right moment in there to tell me.”

 

            Taking a step forward, Kara reached out for Daisy, who dodged away from her, stubbornly wiping away a stray tear as she jutted her chin forward. Kara exhaled forcefully, sniffing quietly as she stood frozen in place. “I needed more time,” she said, her voice breaking as she spoke, “it’s hard for me, Dais. This is something I don’t talk about – not even with your mom. I need you to understand that.”

 

            “I don’t understand, mom!” Daisy exclaimed, “there’s so much that would’ve been different if I’d known!”

 

            “What would’ve?” Lena quickly asked, “your decision to go into the army? You can still change your mind about that.”

 

            Daisy cracked a wide smile, shaking her head in disbelief as she looked at Lena, “so that’s what this was all about? You put me in there hoping that I’d change my mind? You left it up t-to your friend to tell me because you couldn’t even tell me to my face. Was he supposed to talk me out of it for you? God, do you even fucking care what I want?”

 

            “Careful,” Lena warned her.

 

            “Or what, you won’t tell me about the time you almost died?” Daisy laughed, “or are you and mom secretly divorcing and keeping that from us too. What, you were just okay with her not telling me? You couldn’t tell me yourself?”

 

            Lena bristled slightly, raising her own chin as she stubbornly set her jaw and gave her daughter a stern look, “this was your mom’s choice, and we thought it would be better for everyone if she told you when she was ready to. We were going to tell you soon.”

 

            “Oh like I’m going to believe a word that comes out of your mouth!” Daisy hotly replied, “all you do is lie – it’s what you’re good at. You didn’t tell me about Lex, or this, so how am I supposed to trust you? We’re a family, we’re supposed to tell each other things.”

 

            “You’re a child,” Lena snapped, “and you do what you’re told, and we tell you what you need to know. You’re not an adult in this, and if you’re going to act so childish then we’ll treat you like a child. Now sit down. Let your mom explain.”

 

            “Daisy, please,” Kara quietly asked.

 

            There was a brief flicker of hesitation as their daughter’s resolve wavered, but then she steeled herself and reached out for a black leather jacket and shrugged it on, before fetching a pair of shoes and lacing her boots up. Climbing to her feet, she gave them both a wounded look, feeling betrayed by it, and she was breathing rapidly, her hands shaking slightly as she reached out for her bag, slinging over one shoulder. She walked towards them, trying to brush past, but Lena stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, giving her a hard look.

 

            “I’m not letting you leave this house,” Lena told her in a low voice.

 

            Unfortunately, Daisy had Lena’s stubbornness, and she just laughed in her face as she shrugged off her mom’s touch, towering over her by half a foot, “you can’t stop me.”

 

            She bumped into Kara as she rushed over to the door, slipping out into the hallway, with Lena storming after her, with Kara trying not to cry as she trailed behind. Lena rushed after the heavy footsteps, muttering curses under her breath as she chased down her daughter, her feet quick on the stairs as she ran down them. Lillian and Lily were hovering in the doorway of the kitchen, Lillian’s arms wrapped around her granddaughter’s shoulders as they watched the scene unfold before them. Daisy was rifling through the pockets of her jacket for her car keys, and Lena was quickly running down the steps.

 

            “Daisy, I swear to God, if you take one step outside that door, you’re grounded from now until college,” Lena said.

 

            “I don’t give a shit what you say, and I'm not going to college,” Daisy choked out, the keys jangling in her hand as she cast a quick look at Lena, before her eyes darted behind her. Lena turned to look up at Kara, who was as white as she was, and frozen at the top of the stairs, a scared look on her face as she watched her daughter leave. Kara made a small sound of protest, unable to even make her lips move, and Lena turned back around, watching Daisy open the front door.

 

            Her feet pounded on the last few steps, and she stepped out onto the cold stone of the front step, grabbing a fistful of her daughter’s jacket and pulling her to a stop. It was still light out, the sun only just starting to set, and Lena looked up at her daughter with a pleading look in her eyes. “Please. We love you, we’ve only ever wanted to help protect you.”

 

            “Well you didn’t,” Daisy bitterly replied, “you just made things worse.”

 

            Lena frowned in confusion, shaking her head slightly, “what did you do? What would have changed if we’d told you? We can help you, whatever it is.”

 

            “No, you can’t,” her daughter choked out, a sob falling from her lips before she could step herself, and Lena instinctively reached out to wrap her in a hug. She hated to see her girls upset, and right now, she just wanted to comfort her, and make her hot chocolate and tell her stories about when she was younger, while they looked at some of Kara’s photos. She’d always been able to make her daughter feel better, but whatever she was hiding – because Lena realized there had been something wrong, maybe not a boyfriend, but something – Lena couldn’t help her with it. Daisy wouldn’t let her help. “You can’t help me. I don’t want your help; I don’t want anything off you. I hate you – I hate you both.

 

            Leaving Lena standing on the top step, shivering in the cold January weather, Daisy pulled her hand out of her mom’s hand, while Lena stood there blinking in surprise. Of course there had been arguments before, they butted heads often and had their differing opinions, but Daisy had never once said that she hated her mom’s. They’d never fought to the extent where things had been that bad, and even if she didn’t mean anything by it, it had hit Lena harder than expected. Blinking slowly at the sound of wheels spinning, she registered the fact that Daisy was in her car, taking off down the driveway, and they had no idea where she was even going. It wasn’t until Lillian walked over to the front door, reaching outside to pull Lena back in, that she moved, her feet numb as she stepped back into the warmth of the house and shut the door behind her. Lily looked so little as she hovered in the kitchen doorway, confused at what had happened, and Kara was sitting on the top step of the stairs, her arms wrapped around her knees as quietly sobbed.

 

            Running a hand over her tired face, Lean blinked slowly, frowning as she looked at Lillian, “hey mom, how about you and Lily put a film on in the living room.”

 

            Slowly nodding, Lillian cast a wary look at her daughter, and then her daughter-in-law, before beckoning for Lily to come to her, and ushering her into the closest sitting room, the door tightly shutting behind her. Lena exhaled forcefully, as if she’d been holding her breath and was desperate for more air, and she quickly crossed over to the staircase, climbing the first couple of steps. Kara climbed to her feet and abruptly turned around as Lena walked up to her, frowning as she quickened her pace.

 

            “Kara! Hey, Kara, it’s fine,” Lena called after her, jogging to catch up, gently touching her on the arm, “she’ll get over it, she’ll be home tonight, you’ll see. We’ll just- we’ll talk to her later. We’ll get her to listen and- and you can explain what happened – to both of them – and we’ll just put everything out in the open. She’ll understand.”

 

            “I think she made it quite clear that she doesn’t want to listen,” Kara stiffly replied.

 

            “We’re her mom’s,” Lena said, “we’ll make her listen.”

 

            Kara whirled around with a look of accusation on her face, “just like you were going to make her realize that going in the army was a bad idea? This is all your fault. You let her go there, and now someone else- they told her, not me, they did. I should’ve been the one to tell her, but because you had another great fucking idea, which has backfired spectacularly, now she won’t even listen to me.”

 

            Wincing at the harsh words, Lena grit her teeth in anger as she frowned, “so now this is my fault? You’re the one who insisted on waiting! I told you to tell her a long time ago – tell both of them – but you said no, you weren’t ready, and that was fine by me, you could take as long as you wanted to, but don’t say that it’s my fault when I told you to tell them. I wouldn’t have had to come up with another idea if you’d told her. She wouldn’t have needed to know what the army was like, because she should’ve been told by you.”

 

            “And I couldn’t tell her!” Kara snapped, her eyes glistening with tears, and Lena’s mouth went dry at the rare look of anger on her wife’s face. She wanted to wrap her in a hug too, but she would just pull away too, too wrapped up in her sharp words and heartache to seek the comfort of her wife. “If I could’ve I would’ve! It’s not my fault!”

 

            “It’s not my fault either!” Lena spluttered, “I was trying to stop her, in case you didn’t realize.”

 

            “Oh well great job, Lena, our teenage daughter is upset and driving to who knows where and we have no fucking clue when she’s coming home,” Kara exploded.

 

            Sighing, Lena reached out for her, feeling the stab of rejection when Kara took a step backwards. Putting up her cold front, Lena’s face hardened as she took a step back too, and she saw the realization on Kara’s face at the fact that she’d hurt Lena’s feelings, and she opened her mouth, making to move towards her, but was cut off by Lena, “save it. I’ll be back later.”

 

            “Where are you going?” Kara called after her as Lena jogged downstairs, walking over to the coat hooks and slipping her own on, before jamming her feet into the first pair of shoes that were hers. Fishing the keys out of her pocket, Lena walked over to the door, hearing Kara shout after her. “Lena, where are you going?”

 

            She didn’t bother replying as she stepped outside and slammed the door behind her.

 

---

 

            It was pitch black outside and Lena was still driving around the city, going to every place she knew that Daisy liked to visit, keeping an eye out for the sleek Ferrari with no luck. She didn’t bother calling anyone to see if she was there, because she knew that the people that Daisy would go to would call her if she turned up, and she was right, because a few hours later, her phone rang, and Maggie’s name lit up the screen. Scrambling for the phone, Lena kept her eyes on the road as she slid across to answer.

 

            “Hello?” she breathlessly answered.

 

            “Hey, so, uh, we’ve got the mini goth at our place crying her eyes out, and I’m just wondering if you’re aware of that, or if this is brand new information?” Maggie drawled into the phone, and Lena let out a sigh of relief. She was at Alex and Maggie’s place – of course that’s where she’d think to go first, but Lena had been worried when they hadn’t called and said she was there. “So I’ll take that as a yes to being aware. We tried calling Kara but she’s not picking up.”

 

            “We had a fight,” Lena hesitantly told her, feeling embarrassed about it.

 

            Maggie quietly laughed, “yeah, well I didn’t think my niece was crying for no reason. She won’t stop though – gets that from you I suppose – so we don’t really know what happened. Alex is trying to comfort her and – Carter, leave her alone – yeah, well she won’t stop fucking crying so she’s not really getting very far on that end. Want to tell me what I’m dealing with? I mean, I know I’m a cop, but I’d rather not have to have to open a whole case as to why I have a teenager acting like she just killed- oh no, Kara told her?”

 

            Lena couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled up, and she sobbed slightly, wiping at her eyes as she braked at the red light.  “Not exactly. She didn’t get the chance to; she was at cadets today and … I don’t know, she wouldn’t even talk to us. And then Kara and I- well, I don’t think anyone’s happy right now. It’s fine though – it’ll all be fine. I’ll swing by and get her now.”

 

            “Nope,” Maggie said, “I’m not getting a call at midnight saying there’s been a homicide at the Luthor estate because someone’s been murdered. I’m not up for a game of Cluedo right now. Just … go home, talk to Kara, and I’ll let Alex handle … whatever’s happening here. We’ve got the spare room, she can stay there, I’ll even make her pancakes in the morning if she’s not an asshole crier like you. I’ll bring her back tomorrow.”

 

            Sighing, Lena ran a hand over her face, “okay. Yeah, okay, that’d be great. Thanks, Maggie – and tell Alex I said thanks.”

 

            “Do you want me to send the fucking therapist over once she’s done with Daisy? I’m sure there’s one too many wounded egos in your house tonight. You know Alex won’t mind, especially if it’s to do with that.”

 

            “No, it’s fine,” Lena assured her, “she’ll be alright. I’ll get her to give Alex a call in the morning though.”

 

            “Okay. Maybe have a drink when you get it – you sound stressed. Fuck, I don’t envy all the shit in your life right now. I’m kind of glad I’m not a billionaire.”

 

            Shaking her head, Lena let out a loud laugh, “yeah, thanks for the reminder. Being rich is the exact cause of all of my problems right now. Have a good night.”

 

            “Not bloody likely,” Maggie snorted, “you’d think her mom was a ghost with the way she’s carrying on. Must be quite a shock to find out your mom was presumed dead for two weeks. She should try going to the funeral – that was a bit rough.”

 

            “You’re an ass,” Lena sighed, her lips twitching slightly, “and I don’t think that’s the problem. I don’t know what it is, but she’s not telling us something. I had a feeling – I even asked her about dating just to be sure – but she won’t tell us.”

 

            “Your little weirdo loves me, I’ll have a quick chat to her,” Maggie said, “I’ll even put on my uniform and scare it out of her if I have to.”

 

            “You’re a major ass,” Lena said, rolling her eyes.

 

            Laughing, Maggie sighed, and her voice softened slightly, “really though, just leave it to me and Alex for tonight. Try not to worry too much, and try not to argue. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

            Lena said goodbye and listened to the silence as Maggie hung up, and she sighed as she turned at the next set of lights, making a quick square and heading back home. The house was dark as she pulled up, and Lena felt a flicker of disappointment and sadness at the thought of Kara going to bed angry and upset with her, and the thought of her daughter not coming home to bed at all. The door creaked slightly as she opened it, and Lena fumbled in the dark for the coat hook, kicking her heels off and carelessly leaving them on the floor. Slowly moving through the house, making sure she was quiet, Lena slipped into the games room and poured herself a double scotch, before slipping back out of the room and heading for the stairs. In the light from her phone torch, she went upstairs, all the way to the third floor, and hesitated as she reached Daisy’s closed door, which had a thin beam of light spilling out from under it. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena opened the door, and Kara raised her head at the movement, her eyes red and puffy behind her glasses, and a half-drunk cup of tea in her hands. The clothes that had been carelessly tossed around the room were now neatly folded at the end of the bed, courtesy of Kara, and Lena felt herself breathe a little easier at the sight of her wife.

 

            “She’s at Alex’s,” Lena said, and Kara nodded.

 

            “I know,” she murmured, “Maggie called.”

 

            “Want something a little stronger?” Lena asked, draining half of the scotch as she drifted over to Kara and held out the rest of it. Her hands were warm as she took the glass and drained it, setting it down on the nightstand, and Lena sat down beside her, keeping her hands to herself for now. Kara opened her mouth to say something, but Lena cut her off, feeling the need to speak first. “I’m sorry.”

 

            Kara climbed to her feet, quietly laughing as she slowly walked towards the door, “forget about it.”

 

            Climbing to her feet and snagging the empty glass off the nightstand before following after her, Lena sighed, “come on, Kara, you know I didn’t mean it.”

 

            “When have you ever said something you didn’t mean?” Kara snorted.

 

            Lena couldn’t help but feel a little sheepish at that, because she hadn’t meant her words to be harsh, but she did mean some of it. She had told Kara to tell the girls sooner, on more than one occasion, and maybe Daisy wouldn’t have still wanted to join the army, and might not have joined cadets. There were a whole series of events that might not have happened if one of them had acted a little differently, or been a little persistent, and it wasn’t fair to blame either of them for what they’d done.

 

            “Well that’s besides the point,” Lena spluttered, “I didn’t mean to upset you. I didn’t- you know I would never blame you for all of this. She doesn’t blame you either, not really.”

 

            “Sounded pretty fucking clear that she does,” Kara laughed, and Lena flinched slightly. Only when she was really mad did Kara swear, and that’s when Lena knew to choose her words carefully. “Hates us too, apparently.”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, shaking her head, “she doesn’t. She didn’t mean it.”

 

            “Oh yeah, how do you know?” Kara sharply asked.

 

            “Because I was her. I told my mom I hated her every time I saw her for about five years. We fought and argued and I’d get mad and I would tell her I hated her, and that I wished she wasn’t my mom. Even when the fights got really bad, I never really hated her though. I was a kid - she’s a kid,” Lena told her, “she’ll be mad for a while and then she- she’ll listen, and we’ll move past this.”

 

            Kara let out a laugh of disbelief, shaking her head, “that isn’t how I want things to be, Lena. I don’t want my kids to have your childhood, you even said that yourself. She’s going to turn-“

 

            “Into me?” Lena asked, a wavering smile on her lips as her eyes shone with unshed tears, “you think I’m not scared about that? That I don’t think about how much I’m fucking things up every single day? Every time I snap at them or tell them to do something, I’m scared that I’m going to lose them because they’ll see me the way that I saw my mom. That terrifies me. You think that it didn’t hurt to have her tell me that she hates me?”

 

            “No! That’s not what- you’re not your mom, Lena! And Daisy’s not you. But I don’t want lies and secrets and arguments,” Kara told her, “I want us to be a family. I want us to be okay again.”

 

            Lena made a sound of frustration, giving Kara an incredulous look. “Okay? Okay! Things haven’t been okay in weeks! The past two months have been hell for me, and I’ve been trying so hard-“

 

            “Mom?” a small voice said from a few doors down, and Lena and Kara both whipped their heads around to peer into the darkness, making out the faint outline of a figure standing in the doorway to Lily’s room, “is everything okay? Is Daisy home?”

 

            Kara brushed past Lena, rushing over to Lily and wrapping her in a hug as she spoke quietly to her. “Hey baby, everything’s fine. Daisy’s staying at Aunt Alex’s tonight, but everything’s okay. Why don’t you go to bed, hm? You need to rest if you’re going to win your soccer game tomorrow.”

 

            It was silent for a few moments, and Lena could feel the ache in her chest growing. She didn’t want anger and shouting and sharp words, she wanted both of her girls safely home, and Kara’s soft spoken words and warm smiles. She wanted the delicate touches and gentle kisses, and the Kara that she’d had before she’d bumped into Mike again. She didn’t resent Kara for the way she behaved, and didn’t blame her at all, but Lena would be lying if she said that she didn’t miss it when they were all happy and stress free. With the accumulation of everything, it had become too much for them to get by like it was just a little bump in the road, and day after day of stress and tears and arguing had been wearing them both down. It had been almost two months since everything had taken a sharp turn downwards, and the bad had overshadowed the sunny spots. Kara, they could’ve managed, or Lillian’s cancer or trouble with the girls, they could’ve managed, but all three at once was too much.

 

            The dull ache inside became too much, and Lena craved a comforting touch of someone who wasn’t angry at her right now, and she crossed over to Lily’s door, pulling her daughter into a tight hug, closing her eyes as she felt some of the fight fade away. Pulling back, she kissed the side of her daughter’s head, “go on then, back to bed, love. We’ll see you in the morning. I love you.”

 

            “Yeah, I love you both too,” Lily tiredly mumbled, “goodnight.”

 

            Kara murmured a quiet goodnight, and a few moments later they were both staring at a closed door. Turning away, Kara slowly padded down the hallway, sighing as she tightened the belt of her fluffy robe, and Lena took a step after her. “Kara.”

 

            Pausing slightly, Kara turned back around, retracing her steps to kiss Lena on the cheek, “don’t come to bed yet. I’d like to be alone for a little while.”

 

            Heart sinking, Lena nodded, willing herself not to cry, but not managing to keep her voice steady as she replied, her voice quiet in the dark. “I love you.”

 

            “I know,” Kara softly replied, “I love you too.”

 

            Choking back a sob, Lena followed after her, but instead of stopping on the second floor and going to bed with her, she carried on down to the first story, returning to the games room and pouring herself another glass of scotch. Sitting in a leather armchair near the fireplace, the lamp bathing the room in a warm glow, she drank her drink, scratching the belly of an excited puppy, who had followed her in. Feeling tired down to her very bones, Lena decided to go to one of the spare rooms instead, craving the dark comfort of sleep almost as much as Kara’s warm embrace, but knowing that she owed Kara her space after their argument.

 

            Draining her glass, she left it on the end table, switched off the lamp and carried Artemis back to her bed in one of the coat rooms, whispering goodnight to the puppy before she dragged her feet as she wearily climbed upstairs. There was an empty bedroom in the one beside her own, and she stripped off her jeans and jumper, before climbing into bed, sighing as the silk sheets slid against her bare skin and her limbs relaxed. Sleep didn’t come easily though, and she tossed and turned for hours, until the sound of the door creaking open reached her ears. Pushing the blankets back, Lena sat up, squinting in the dark as she listened to the door click closed again, and bare feet pad over to the bed. She didn’t have to ask to know that it was Kara, and she rolled over to the other side of the bed, making room for her. The mattress jostled as Kara climbed in next to her, and neither of them spoke, but Lena felt the gentle brush of fingers against her lower back, and she let out a shaky breath, her eyes fluttering closed as she reached out and let her own hand briefly touch Kara’s. After that she fell asleep quickly, but it wasn’t the same without being in Kara’s arms, and when she woke up the next morning, on the opposite side of the bed to Kara, she couldn’t help but feel sad.

Chapter Text

            The next morning, Lena had been expecting some of the tension to fade after a night of sleep to let go of their anger, but Kara didn’t say a word when she walked downstairs for breakfast. Sitting at the table, filling in the crossword in the newspaper, Lena looked up reaching for her coffee as she watched her wife shuffle in, her face drawn and blonde hair hanging limply around her face. Kara didn’t so much as look at her as she filled a cup up with coffee and grabbed a box of cereal, filling up a bowl and pouring some milk in it, before heading towards the door.

 

            “What, so that’s it?” Lena called after her, “you’re just going to ignore me?”

 

            “I have nothing else to say,” Kara said, slowing, but not turning around as she neared the door.

 

            “How about sorry?” Lena snapped, her patience wearing thin.

 

            That made Kara turn around, a look of surprise on her face as she met Lena’s eyes. “Sorry?”

 

            Clenching her teeth, Lena gave her a hard look, “we both said mean things, and I think you owe me an apology, just as much as I owed you one.”

 

            Scoffing, Kara walked over to the table and set her bowl down, a little bit too hard, making milk slosh out of the bowl as she dragged a chair out. Lena wasn’t sure if she was being particularly irritating because she was in a bad mood, but the sound of the chair grating on the floor set her teeth on edge. Sitting down at the opposite end of the table, Kara scooped up a mouthful of cereal, scowling as she chewed quickly. Lena scoffed, giving her a wry smile as she took a sip of her coffee, “and here I thought I was the one with too much stubborn pride.”

 

            “It’s not pride,” Kara hotly replied, her cheeks reddening slightly, “it’s ... if I talk to you, I’m going to get mad again, and I don’t want to argue.”

 

            “Because silence is so much better,” Lena snorted, shaking her head as she turned her attention back to the newspaper.

 

            Kara didn’t reply, and Lena took that as a yes that she did think silence was better than them actually trying to talk about last night. Neither of them spoke until Lily came bounding downstairs, dressed in her soccer uniform, bouncing with excitement at the prospect of her match later on and seemingly oblivious to the tension between her parents.

 

            “Mom, have you seen my shoes?” Lily asked, putting some bread down in the toaster and pouring herself a glass of water.

 

            “In the laundry room,” Kara said, beckoning her over and patting the chair nearest to her. Climbing to her feet, Lena walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge.

 

            “Just butter, love?” she asked, looking over at Lily, who nodded while she sat down and let Kara try and fix the tangled mess of hair she’d hastily tied up. “Are you having any? Kara?”

 

            She gave her wife an expectant look, waiting for an answer, and Kara silently shook her head, eliciting an eye roll from Lena as she grabbed the butter and roughly opened a drawer to fetch a knife. Lily was watching with a hesitant look on her face, patiently letting Kara braid her hair for her. “Are you ... are you guys fighting? Is it because of Daisy?”

 

            Letting out a soft sigh, Lena grabbed the toast as it popped up, quickly buttering it and cutting it in half, while Kara gave their daughter a warm smile, brushing back a few wisps of dark hair, “everything’s fine.”

 

            Making a small sound of disapproval, Lena set the toast down in front of Lily and sank back into her seat, pursing her lips slightly as she picked up her pen and turned her attention back to her crossword. They finished breakfast with less tension as Lily diffused it with her constant chattering, and then they quickly got dressed and Lena sent Lily to go on ahead with Kara, so that she could make sure Lillian was okay before leaving. Assured that her mom was okay resting in bed, Lena left her watching the Discovery Channel with a cup of coffee and went to the soccer match.

 

---

 

            Hearing the front door open, Lena closed her book and set it down on the stuffed armchair in the library, before walking out into the hallway and following it to the door. Kara was hanging up her coat, a weary look on her face, and Lily had her duffle bag slung over one shoulder and was in the middle of kicking off muddy cleats.

 

            “Hey, take them into the coat room, please,” Kara called after Lily, who had sneakily tried to make for the stairs, and sighed as she wheeled around and picked her shoes up. She brushed past Lena, who reached out to gently touch her on the shoulder, and disappeared down the hallway, leaving Lena alone with Kara in the foyer.

 

            “Where’s Daisy?” Lena asked, frowning slightly as she crossed her arms over her chest, slowly wandering closer.

 

            “Alex’s,” Kara stiffly replied, putting her shoes neatly beneath her coat.

 

            Lena blinked in surprise, arching an eyebrow at Kara, “what do you mean she’s at Alex’s? You said you were going to pick her up.”

 

            “And she wouldn’t leave,” Kara tightly told her.

 

            Spluttering, Lena’s eyebrows shot up, “what do you mean she wouldn’t leave? She’s seventeen, Kara, you make her leave. You’re her mother.”

 

            “Was I supposed to drag her out by her hair?” Kara sharply laughed, “at least she’s safe and we know where she is.”

 

            Biting back a scathing reply about how their daughter should be at home, Lena turned around and stalked off towards the kitchen, where Lily walked in a few moments later, squeaking a dog toy, while Artemis ran around her feet in circles. Lena was opening and closing cupboards, frowning as she came up empty handed, and sighed as she turned to face her daughter. Shaking her head at the mud covered knees and messy hair, Lena softly smiled, walking over to her and wrapping her in a hug.

 

            “You played well today, love,” Lena said, while Lily returned the hug, “how about you pick what we have for dinner tonight?”

 

            “Chinese,” Lily immediately replied, and Lena laughed, giving her a quick squeeze, before pulling back.

 

            Brushing some of her hair back, Lena looked at the familiar blue eyes set in a different face, looking at her with the warmth that she missed off Kara, and gave her daughter a warm smile. “Sounds good. I’ll order it later.”

 

            “What’re you ordering?” Kara asked, her voice steely and uncommonly cold as she walked into the kitchen.

 

            “Chinese for dinner,” Lena curtly replied, “just the usual or do you want anything else?”

 

            “Why would I want anything else?” Kara bluntly replied, and Lena sighed heavily, a snarky remark on the tip of her tongue, but at the sight of Lily frowning and looking at the both with concern, it died, and she gave her daughter a thin smile, brushing her hair. Kara grabbed herself a bottle of water and turned around to leave, planting a kiss on Daisy’s head as she walked past, “let me know when dinner’s here. I’ve got work to do.”

 

---

 

            The next morning, Lena dropped Lily off to school and was waiting outside for Daisy to show up so she could try and talk to her before school, and finally spotted her daughter slouching towards the doors with Carter close behind. Cutting across the parking lot with a determined look on her face, Lena was suddenly stopped in her tracks by a hand clamping down on her shoulder.

 

            “You might want to hold off on the attack,” Alex said, falling into step beside Lena.

 

            “Shouldn’t you be at work?” Lena asked, trying not to let her surprise show at Alex’s unexpected appearance.

 

            Laughing, Alex shrugged, “yeah, but I knew one of you would be here to take Lily to school, and I figured you’d try and talk to Daisy.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena crossed her arms over her chest, “well, yes, I do like to talk to my kid, you know.”

 

            “Just let her go to class today,” Alex softly said, “she doesn’t need to be upset at school. She’s already having a rough time as it is.”

 

            “She won’t come home,” Lena quietly said, feeling a dull ache in her chest as she cast a forlorn look at the doors, watching her daughter disappear into the school.

 

            “She will, eventually,” Alex said, giving Lena a reassuring pat on the back, “she’s going through some shit, just give her time to process it.” At the weary sigh and sad look in Lena’s eyes, Alex gently sighed, “okay, how about you and Kara come over tonight for dinner? Obviously bring your mom as well, if she’s up to it. I’ll try and talk to Daisy after school and maybe she’ll give you and Kara a chance to explain tonight.”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena nodded, “okay. Thanks.”

 

            Giving her a slight smile, Alex gently squeezed Lena’s arm, “great. Well I’ve got to get to work, or I’m going to be late. I’ll see you later - say five.”

 

            “Have a good day,” Lena murmured, giving Alex a small smile in return. They both parted ways and Lena slid into the front seat of her car, the engine purring to life as she reversed out of her parking spot and headed towards L-Corp.

 

---

 

            “You’re early,” Maggie said, opening the door and turning around as she walked towards the kitchen.

 

            “We’re right on time,” Kara corrected her, “you’re the only one who doesn’t own a watch, Captain.”

 

            “Whatever,” Maggie huffed, “how is everyone? Your mom’s not joining us?”

 

            “She’s not feeling too good,” Lena muttered, “she insisted we come anyway. Probably glad for a bit of peace and quiet.”

 

            It had actually been quieter at the mansion, and it was always easy to find a quiet room there anyway, given the size of it, but the absence of one person, and the silent treatment between two others had made for a tense house. Lena knew that tonight would be anything other than peaceful, if she knew her family as well as she thought she did. Lily went straight into the sitting room to watch TV with Carter, while Lena and Kara fell into easy conversation with Maggie as they helped her finish off dinner, although there was still some tension as they brushed past each other and curtly asked for them to pass things or move out of the way. Maggie wasn’t stupid, and obviously felt the tension, but for once, she kept her mouth shut. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes later that Alex came downstairs, propelling a moody looking teenager before her.

 

            “Is dinner almost ready?” Alex asked, silently gesturing for Daisy to take a seat at the table, and Lena watched as she slouched over to a seat and sat in it.

 

            “Yeah, just waiting for the lasagne,” Maggie said, giving her wife a dimpled smile as she tossed the salad in the bowl.

 

            “Good day at school, Dais?” Kara asked, her voice wavering slightly as she looked at their daughter with a pained look on her face.

 

            She didn’t get a reply, and Lena sighed, carrying glasses over to the table and setting one down at each space. “Your mom’s talking to you,” Lena said, and Daisy scowled at her, slinking down in her seat.

 

            Maggie dramatically rolled her eyes, and Alex grimaced slightly at Kara. There was a silent conversation, with pointed looks and gestures behind the teen’s back, until Maggie cleared her throat, giving everyone an exasperated look, “how was Spanish class?”

 

            “Bueno,” Daisy snarkily replied, falling into Spanish that no one except Maggie could understand - which was obviously intentional.

 

            “Okay, asshole, how about we stick to English,” Maggie snorted, shrugging at the sharp look and quick nudge that Alex gave her. “What? I don’t feel like playing translator tonight.”

 

            Pulling the lasagne out of the oven, Kara frowned as she set it down on the counter. “It’s fine, Maggie, just ... don’t bother,” she quietly murmured, and Lena clenched her teeth, feeling irritation well up inside.

 

            Everything was such a mess, and this wasn’t how their family was. Her and Kara never fought, and they were never annoyed with each other for longer than a day, and their kids never ran away to stay with their aunt’s and wouldn’t reply to them. This was something like out of Lena’s childhood, and she felt the prickle of tears at the back of her eyes as she stood in the kitchen, trying to come up with a way to get out of this. It was Kara’s birthday on Sunday, and on Saturday they were having a party at their house, but at the rate they were going, it didn’t seem like either of them were going to enjoy it, and Lena felt angry at that too. Everything seemed to be going downhill quickly, and she didn’t know how to stop.

 

            “Excuse me,” Lena murmured, brushing past Alex and slipping down the hallway. She locked herself inside the bathroom, taking in her pallor and the tired look in her eyes, and vigorously started washed her hands as she tried to get her emotions in check, before she snapped at someone. It was almost five minutes before she came back out, taking a deep breath before she went back into the kitchen, where everyone was finding chairs to sit in and helping themselves to the food.

 

            Finding herself across from Daisy, Lena avoided looking at her, knowing that she’d just get irritated by the brooding look and the stiff silence sent her way. Instead, she turned to Alex, who was talking to Kara, listening to their conversation. “Mom will be down on Friday, so I can pick her up from the airport and take her to yours, but you’ll have to pick the kids up from school.”

 

            “Or I can pick mom up and bring her over to you in the afternoon,” Kara suggested, “otherwise Daisy can drive the three of them home and I can come and get the girls later on.”

 

            “Lily,” Daisy cut in, “you can come and get Lily.”

 

            With a sigh, Kara set her knife and fork down, “Dais, come on. You can’t stay here forever - this isn’t your house. You have to come home eventually.”

 

            “Well we’re happy to have her here until things cool down,” Alex gently said.

 

            “Alex!” Kara snapped, giving her sister a hard look, “she is not living with you. She’s my daughter, she’s a child, and she can come home and stop acting so childish. You’re not supposed to be telling her that she can stay here!”

 

            Alex made a sound of indignation, frowning slightly at her sister, “would you prefer it if I turned her out and she ran away to god knows where? I’m trying to help, Kara. Maybe if you’d talked a long time ago, it wouldn’t have come this far.”

 

            “Alex,” Lena said, her voice a low warning.

 

            “How about we just eat our food?” Maggie suggested, cutting into the lasagne and scooping a square onto her plate.

 

            Everyone else, except for Lily and Carter, ignored her, and the tension at the table was growing. Of course Lena agreed with Alex, but Kara hadn’t wanted to, so Lena couldn’t be mad at her for that, because it was her decision to make. “You know why I didn’t,” Kara stiffly replied, a wounded look on her face as she looked at her sister, “and you’ve always agreed with me! What, now all of a sudden you have a lot to say on the matter? That I was wrong?”

 

            “I’m not saying that!” Alex exclaimed, “of course I’m on your side, but you can’t expect her to not react like this just because you had a good reason. Like you said, she’s a child.”

 

            “Okay! Enough!” Maggie snapped, banging a hand on the table, “you’re acting like children, and if I have to call Eliza and tell her to come early, I will. Now eat your food and shut up. Stop arguing at the dinner table.”

 

            They were all silent for the rest of dinner, and afterwards, Daisy ran straight upstairs, and no amount of coaxing on Kara’s part would get her to come out and talk. That had been the whole purpose of the dinner, but Lena just sat on the top step of the staircase, listening to her wife beg and bang on the door, while her daughter ignored her or gave the occasional harsh comment about Kara. Eventually, they left with only Lily in tow, and the drive home was even tenser. As soon as they got in, Lena locked herself straight in her office and spent all night working on paperwork, until the sun was a faint smudge on the horizon, and she quickly got ready for work, and was gone before anyone else got up.

Chapter Text

            “Mrs Danvers-Luthor, hi, I’m just calling you about your daughter,” the familiar voice of Lyra drifted through the phone. “We’re going to need you to come down for a meeting with Principal Ardeen.”

 

            Biting back a sigh, Lena closed her eyes, “hi, yes, of course. I’m actually about to go into a meeting, so I’ll have to send my wife.”

 

            “Principal Ardeen would like both you and your wife to be present for this meeting,” Lyra said, and Lena paused for a moment, wondering what their daughter had done this time, because she had no doubt in her mind that it was Daisy this time, like usual.

 

            Pressing her lips together in a thin line, Lena felt a flicker of irritation grow, but pushed her chair out as she replied, “thank you. I’ll be there shortly.”

 

            “Thank you, Mrs Danvers-Luthor,” Lyra said, and then the line went dead.

 

            Heavily sighing, Lena climbed to her feet, quickly packing away her laptop and files and closing her briefcase with a click. Hastily pulling on her coat, she walked over to the door, threw a quick order at her assistant to cancel her appointments for the rest of the day, and walked into the elevator, breathing in the cool air and letting out another sigh as the doors slid closed.

 

            By the time she reached the bottom floor, her car had been brought around for her, and she thanked the valet as she slid into the driver’s seat. Pulling out into traffic, Lena began the familiar drive towards the school, muttering curses and getting annoyed by the backed up traffic at lunch hour. When she finally pulled up at the school, she spotted Kara’s car already parked there and quickly climbed out of the car, squaring her shoulders in grim determination as she made her way towards her wife, daughter and the headmistress.

 

            Kara was waiting for her outside, her arms folded across her chest and her lips set in a grim line. “You’re late.”

 

            “Traffic was bad,” Lena curtly replied, her hand resting on Kara’s lower back as she ushered her inside, her fingertips maintaining contact as they walked down the empty hallway, the sounds of voices drifting towards them from behind every closed door.

 

            At the office, they walked in to a receptionist jumping up from her seat, and a sulking teenager sat alongside a blonde girl a few years younger. At the appearance of her mom’s, Daisy seemed to sink into her seat as if she was trying to go unnoticed, and Lena closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, before she started towards her. She hadn’t seen her in four days, and a part of Lena wanted to hug her and ask her about her day, but the other part was irritated that her daughter had gotten herself into trouble again.

 

            “What did you do?” Kara wearily asked, an unimpressed look on her face as she stopped before her daughter.

 

            “I didn’t do anything,” Daisy exclaimed, scowling as she slouched in her seat.

 

            Opening her mouth to reply, Lena was cut off by the office door opening and Imra walking out. She gave Kara and Lena a slight smile, and a small nod, “thank you both for coming. Shall we talk in my office?”

 

            Giving her a thin smile, Lena nodded, giving Daisy a look that made her sigh and climb to her feet, walking into the office ahead of everyone else. Lena followed Kara inside and shut the door behind her, gently guiding Kara down into the seat beside Daisy, standing behind them as she faced Imra. “So, may we ask what this is about?” Lena asked, crossing her arms over her chest and arching an eyebrow.

 

            “Right,” Imra said, shifting slighting in her seat as she straightened up and gingerly placed both of her hands on her desk, a sheepish look on her face, “well, you see, Daisy hasn’t done anything in particular-”

 

            “What?” Lena tightly replied, trying not to snap, “Miss Ardeen, I don’t think you understand how busy I am. If my daughter hasn’t done anything wrong, then I don’t appreciate being called away from my business to come down here for nothing. Especially when my wife is already here.”

 

            “I know that you’re busy,” Imra primly replied, “but I feel like there’s a lot we need to discuss about Daisy and her behaviour. Just this week, she’s skipped six classes, had two lunchtime detentions, and been sent to my office on three separate occasions. I haven’t called home because I understand that things have been ... difficult.”

 

            Bristling slightly, Lena made a sound of indignation, “what do you mean?”

 

            Sighing, Imra grimaced, “Mike ... he, uh, told me what happened.”

 

            “What do you mean?” Kara blurted out, her shoulders tensing, even when Lena hesitantly reached out to place a hand on her shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

 

            “You don’t- I assumed that Daisy would’ve discussed it with you. About cadets,” Imra hesitantly explained at the confused looks on Lena and Kara’s faces.

 

            “Cadets?” Kara asked, her voice sounding hollow as she turned to look at Daisy, who had her head ducked down. Lena’s mouth felt dry as she looked at her daughter too.

 

            Clearing her throat, Lena looked back at Imra, feeling slightly weak, “no, we haven’t really discussed what happened, and I don’t think this is a school matter. It’s a private one.”

 

            Giving her a strained smile, Imra leant forward slightly, “I understand that it’s difficult for you, but I think that given the fact that Mike is my husband-“

 

            “Wait, what? Mr Matthews is your husband?” Daisy spluttered, her eyes wide with disbelief as she looked at Imra.

 

            “Yes,” Imra said, giving her a small smile, “and he wasn’t aware that you didn’t- well, he’s very sorry, Mrs Danvers-Luthor. He would never have spoken about it to your daughter if he had known.”

 

            Kara stiffly nodded, sitting rigidly in her seat as she stared blankly ahead. Daisy hadn’t specified who had told her, only that a war hero was coming to talk to them, and Lena felt slightly hollow inside at the realisation that it was Mike. Mike who had been there alongside Kara, who she had dragged back with her, determined to save one person at least. Lena couldn’t begin to imagine how Kara was feeling, and she gave her wife’s shoulder another squeeze, swallowing thickly.

 

            “He shouldn’t have spoken to her about it at all,” Lena stiffly replied.

 

            “Why are we here?” Kara rasped, cutting Imra off before she could come up with an excuse for her husband.

 

            Sighing, Imra cast a pitying look at their daughter, who was hunched over in her chair, her dark hair hiding her face. “It seems like Daisy has been having more trouble than usual over the past week. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to go through a rebellious stage, and I know things have been ... shaken up over the past week. I just ... I want to make sure that everything’s okay at home. Being a senior can be hard, and it would be a shame for Daisy’s grades to suffer because of this, especially with college applications.”

 

            “I’m not going to college,” Daisy muttered, playing with the hem of her pleated skirt as she avoided looking at anyone.

 

            Shooting her an exasperated look, Lena cleared her throat slightly, “we’re still talking Daisy’s future over. Of course we would want her to have the option for college, and would hate for her grades to suffer.”

 

            Earnestly nodding, Imra gave her a sympathetic look, “of course. I think perhaps you should take Daisy home for today, and I would suggest perhaps a meeting with a, uh ... school counsellor. As a family. Also perhaps a meeting with Daisy and a guidance counsellor to discuss college-“

 

            “I’m not going to college,” Daisy exploded, shooting to her feet and staring at Kara and Lena with fear and anger written all over her face. She looked pale and tired, and her hands shook as she balled them up into fists. Lena’s heart ached as she looked into her blue eyes, swimming with tears, and she couldn’t even bring herself to be angry; she was just worried. “I’m not going to college. I can’t.”

 

            “You have-“ Kara started, but Daisy just stormed out, slamming the office door shut behind her, and Lena stared open mouthed after her, while Kara scrambled to her feet. Shaking herself out of her surprise at her daughter’s even more shocking behaviour than usual, Lena hurried after Kara, shooting Imra an apologetic look as she walked out after her wife.

 

            She walked out into the hallway just as a loud bang echoed in the hallway, as her daughter slammed her fist into a locker, making Lena wince. She knew all too well how much punching hard things could hurt, and a metal locker door didn’t give way quite as easily as plaster did. Yet Daisy punched in again and again, until Kara reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her from punching it again, and found herself pinned up against the locker by the front of her shirt, staring wide-eyed at her daughter, who stood a few inches taller than her. Lena took a few tentative steps towards them, while footsteps followed behind her and a door across the hallway opened as a teacher poked her head out.

 

            “Are you going to hit me?” Kara asked, her voice wavering slightly, “I know you’re mad at me. I know and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, baby, I wish- I should’ve told you.”

 

            Letting out a choked sob, Daisy ducked her head down, her shoulders shaking as she cried, even as she held Kara in place. “You should’ve told me,” Daisy cried, burying her face in Kara’s shoulder, much to both women’s surprise.

 

            With a lump in her throat, Lena watched as Kara shakily wrapped her arms around their daughter, her eyelids fluttering closed as she held her tightly, like she hadn’t been allowed to for almost a week. It had killed them both inside to be parted from her, and it hurt them to watch her break down crying, but as much as Lena wanted to comfort her, she let Kara hold her close. This was between them, and maybe Lena should’ve done more to handle the situation, or fix it, but it all came down to Kara not telling the girls about her past, and Lena knew she needed this moment.

 

            Looking away, Lena turned and saw Imra standing just outside the office door, a look of concern on her face, while the receptionist stood slightly behind her. Giving her a hard look, Lena nodded slightly, “we’ll take her home for the rest of the day.”

 

            “Yes,” Imra nodded, “I’m sorry.”

 

            Nodding, Lena turned around and walked towards her wife and daughter, her heels clicking loudly on the floor as she took each slow step towards them, with a wary look on her face. Reaching out, she rested a hand on Daisy’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze, “come on. It’s time to go.”

 

            Stumbling slightly as she tried to choke back her sobs, Daisy let Lena propel her down the hallway and out into the chill air of late January, the three of them walking down the front steps as Lena made for her parked car. When Daisy realised where they were headed to, she began to struggle, ducking out from under Lena’s hand and trying to dodge past Kara, who barred her way. “Hey, come on, Dais,” Kara hoarsely said, her eyes begging as she grabbed her daughter by the shoulders, trying to keep her from running off, “just let us take you home. It’ll be okay.”

 

            “Okay?” Daisy shouted, “you think it’ll be okay just because you got called to pick me up from school? I don’t want to go home with you. I don’t want to talk to you. It’s not going to be okay, it’s not-“ and then another sob escaped her.

 

            Kara reached out to try and wrap her in another hug, but Daisy fought her off, stumbling backwards, and right into Lena, who had her hands out to steady her. Jerking away from her as well, Daisy found herself caught between both mom’s, and Lena felt a lump rise in her throat as she stared at her daughter, wanting to help her, but not knowing how. Taking a small step towards her, sending Daisy skittering back slightly, Lena gave her a pleading look, “Dais, it’s okay.”

 

            “It’s not,” her daughter sobbed, wrapping her arms around herself as she hunched over slightly, her shoulders shaking.

 

            “Let us help you, love,” Kara said, her voice cracking as her eyes filled with tears.

 

            Letting out a choked up laugh, Daisy straightened up, giving them a pained smile as she shrugged, “it’s too late. I already enlisted.”

 

            Feeling the blood drain from her face, Lena tried to say something, her mouth opening and closing as she stared at her daughter. “What do you mean?” she rasped, fear taking hold in her heart.

 

            “I mean I already enlisted!” Daisy snapped, her anger back as she looked at the ground.

 

            “No,” Kara whispered, her voice shaking and her face whiter than Lena had ever seen it, “no, no, you can’t. You’re seventeen. You don’t have my permission. Unless ...” Lena blanched as Kara turned her accusing eyes on her.

 

            “Are you fucking serious, Kara? You think I would let her do this?” Lena hotly replied, “you’re unbelievable!”

 

            With some colour rising in her cheeks at her embarrassment, Kara turned her attention back to Daisy, while Lena silently seethed. “You can’t enlist,” Kara told her, her voice sounding small and fragile.

 

            “I already have,” Daisy snapped, “I didn’t know- you didn’t- if you told me ... this is your fault!”

 

            “It’s okay, baby, we can get you out of it,” Kara said, her voice cracking as she took a step towards her, her arms reaching out.

 

            “Don’t touch me!” Daisy lashed out, her bottom lip trembling as a tear rolled down her cheek.

 

            Screwing her eyes shut, Lena took a deep breath, trying to stamp down the panic that was welling up inside. They were both still here - she hadn’t lost either of them - and she would get them out of this. Her daughter wasn’t going in the army, because Lena would do everything in her power to get her out of this. She figured it wouldn’t be that hard though, because Daisy was still a minor, and there would be something to let her out of it. She hadn’t even done any training yet either, so they still had time, and Lena wouldn’t waste any of it. Feeling confident in her ability to fix this mess - just like she always did - Lena took another deep breath and opened her eyes again, tuning into the argument still going on.

 

            “Enough!” she shouted, cutting off Kara, who was about to reply. “Daisy, I’m your mother and you are getting in a car and I’m taking you home. No, don’t you dare think about arguing. Get in the car, or I will make you. I’m not in the mood for arguing, so don’t even try it, just get in the car. Mine or your mother’s - I don’t care which one - just pick, and get in. Now.”

 

            Opening and closing her mouth, Daisy clenched her teeth, a deep scowl over her angry blue eyes, and she turned and stormed over to Lena’s car. Of course she would pick Lena’s - she was less angrier at her than Kara - and she yanked on the locked handle a few times, purposely irritating Lena, who was trying to find her keys. Watching as her daughter climbed into the passenger seat, Lena felt some small part of relief at the fact that she was coming home. That was something at least, even if everything was falling apart and Lena just wanted to cry.

 

            Feeling a brush against her shoulder, she blinked in surprise as Kara stormed past her, and lunged forward to grab her by the arm. “Hey, Kara, wait!”

 

            “What?” Kara harshly asked, “what do you want?”

 

            “What do I want?” Lena echoed in disbelief, feeling hollow as she stared at her wife, “I want you to talk to me.”

 

            Kara let out a snort of laughter, “you always say that but we never talk.”

 

            “Because you won’t talk to me!” Lena exclaimed, “I miss you! I miss my wife. This isn’t how things are supposed to be - how we’re supposed to be! We don’t do this!”

 

            Wiping at her eyes, Kara shrugged, “what do you want me to do, Lena? I can’t do everything - I’m not you.”

 

            A breathless sob escaped Lena, and she gave Kara a broken look, “I can’t do it either. I can’t- this is all too much.”

 

            “Yeah, no shit,” Kara weakly laughed, giving Lena a tearful smile, “out daughter - our seventeen year old daughter - is joining the fucking army.”

 

            “I won’t let that happen,” Lena hoarsely told her, her voice shaking as she spoke.

 

            “It already is, Lena! Where were you to stop it before it happened?” Kara shouted.

 

            Spluttering, Lena looked at her in surprise, feeling her anger well up at the accusation, “you’re blaming me for this? Where was I? I was trying to keep everything else together! Where were you, Kara?”

 

            Cheeks flaming, Kara scowled at her, the muscles in her jaw working as she clenched her teeth, “I was trying to get better - for you.”

 

            “For me? I don’t want you to do this for me; I want you to get better for yourself!” Lena exclaimed, her heart aching as she yearned to reach out and touch Kara.

 

            “I’m trying,” Kara quietly said, “I’m doing the best that I can.”

 

            “So am I,” Lena said, tilting her head to the side as she gave Kara a grim smile, “but I’ve got nothing without you. You’re slipping away, and I want my wife back. I want my family.”

 

            Turning around, Kara started walking back towards her car, her shoulders tense and shaking slightly as she silently cried. Rushing forward, Lena stopped her in her tracks, turning her around and wrapping her arms around her for a moment, closing her eyes as she sank into the embrace that she’d missed for the past week. It only lasted for a second, and nothing had changed when she pulled back, but it gave them both a small amount of comfort. Kara’s throat bobbed as she swallowed thickly, and she gave Lena a quick nod, before turning and walking to her car. There had been the same longing and loving look in her eyes as there was in Lena’s, and Lena knew that they’d be okay; they just needed to get back on their feet. Waiting until Kara’s car had disappeared from view, Lena walked over to the driver’s side and slid in, buckling her seatbelt and starting the car.

 

            She didn’t so much as look at her daughter, who she knew wouldn’t want to talk anyway, so she threw the car into reverse and made for the exit. Turning right instead of left, towards home, Lena saw Daisy glance at her out of the corner of her eyes. “Where are we going?” her daughter asked, clearing her throat slightly at the hoarseness of her voice.

 

            Looking down at the bruised and bloody knuckles of Daisy’s right hand, Lena wearily sighed, “the hospital.”

Chapter Text

            Lena was standing in the corner of the room, a glass of water in hand as she lingered at the fringes of the party. She hadn’t spoken to Kara since that morning, where they’d had a stiff conversation about canceling the party, with Kara in favour of it, and Lena opposed to it. It had been planned for weeks, and it would’ve been too late to cancel it, and Kara had spent the rest of the day shut up in her photography room while Lena directed the caterers and signed for deliveries. Even when they’d had their photos taken together, at Lily’s insistence, they had smiled as warmly as usual, their arms around each other’s waists while they didn’t speak a word. It was better though, because Daisy was there too, and that made them both feel a little less tense. Still, Lena hated the tension between everyone, and it wasn’t just between her and Kara, and them and Daisy; there was a tension in the way that Lillian talked to them all, awkwardly trying to navigate the situation without interfering, while Lily was left on the outskirts, even though Lena and Kara both separately made sure to check on her.

 

            “Why are you lurking in the corner?” Maggie drawled as she sidled up next to Lena, breaking her out of her self-pitying thoughts.

 

            “I’m not lurking,” Lena bristled, clutching her glass in her hand as she scowled, her eyes trained on Kara. It was killing her to be standing on the opposite side of the room, not speaking to her wife, who she loved with her whole heart, and drinking water so that she wouldn’t make things worse later on in the night with a clouded mind and a loose tongue. “She’s doing this on purpose,” Lena muttered, a longing look on her face as she looked at Kara.

 

            Maggie followed her line of sight, and frowned slightly, “what’s she doing?”

 

            Lena looked at Kara, feeling her pulse race slightly as she took in the fitted red dress and the perfectly matching lipstick, the expensive necklace Lena had bought her for Christmas framing the delicate curve of her neck perfectly. She’d even gone so far as to wear contacts for the evening, making her blue eyes seem even more piercing without the plastic frames usually encircling them. “The dress, the lipstick, the jewellery.”

 

            “And that’s a bad thing? She looks nice,” Maggie said, giving Lena a confused look.

 

            “She looks beautiful,” Lena earnestly told her, “and she’s being a stubborn idiot and won’t let us talk. Petty games are my thing, and she knows what she’s doing dressing like that.”

 

            Laughing, Maggie clapped Lena on the back, “tough break, I guess. Perhaps she’ll be a little happier with some wine in her system. Do you want me to get her drunk for you?”

 

            Making a sound of disapproval, Lena gave Maggie an exasperated look, “you’re not very helpful, are you?”

 

            “I mean, I just spend the last week looking after your kid, who definitely has your flair for the dramatics, so I wouldn’t say I’m unhelpful,” Maggie said, giving Lena a wry smile.

 

            Letting out a sharp laugh, Lena took a sip of water, staring straight at Kara as she replied, “oh yeah? Did she happen to tell you she’s already enlisted in the army?” Maggie was silent as she took a sip of her scotch, and the bitter smile on Lena’s face dropped as Maggie’s silence stretched on. Turning to look at her, Lena blanched at the glint in Maggie’s eyes and the slightly raised chin, as she looked at Lena with unabashed confidence. “Tell me you didn’t know,” Lena hoarsely told her, her voice dangerously low.

 

            “Lena,” Maggie sighed, grimacing up at her.

 

            “Maggie, I swear to fucking god, if you knew and you didn’t tell us-“

 

            “Alex is fixing it,” Maggie soothingly told her, “no one wanted to stress you out even more.”

 

            Lena spluttered as she looked at her sister-in-law with anger, “no one? Who’s no one?”

 

            “Relax, just me, Alex and Daisy,” Maggie said, rolling her eyes, “you’re both going through so much as it is. We didn’t want you to have to be scared about this too. She’s petrified, Lena; she’s got it in her head that she’s going to die. She didn’t know how to tell you. We’ve been looking into it though, and it’ll be pretty easy to get her out. We’re taking care of it.”

 

            “I don’t need you to take care of things for me,” Lena snapped, “she’s my child, and you should’ve told me.”

 

            “No need to be a dick, we were just trying to help,” Maggie huffed.

 

            Giving her a dark look, Lena clenched her teeth as she hotly replied, “I don’t need your help.”

 

            “Whatever you say, Lena. You're not going to get a rise out of me; I know how the famous Lena Luthor anger works. You’re not going to get me to snap so you can fight with me and push someone else away, so be pissed at me if you want, but don’t be an asshole when we only have your best interests at heart,” Maggie snarkily replied, making Lena feel even angrier but also a little meek at being admonished. Maggie had always been the one to put everyone in their places when they were being annoyingly stupid, and Lena was almost empty to send her over to Kara and give her the same treatment.

 

            Turning around, Lena stalked off through the party and almost bumped into Eliza, who gave her a wide eyed look as Lena pulled up short, her frown smoothing out into a mildly surprised look. “Eliza.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Eliza wrapped an arm around her shoulders and started slowly walking them across the room, “what’s got you all riled up tonight?”

 

            “It’s nothing,” Lena wearily sighed, unable to even bring herself to feel mad.

 

            “How’re you doing, sweetie? I know you said on the phone that you were okay, but your mom says otherwise,” Eliza hesitantly said, looking at her with concern.

 

            Giving her a grim smile, Lena shrugged slightly, “my mom shouldn’t gossip, and I’m fine. It’s Kara that I’m worried about. She’s not herself and I don’t know how to help her. She’s just- she’s so mad, and I know she’s not really mad at me - she’s mad at herself. That’s even worse though, because I don’t know how to help her without getting mad when she blames me, even though I know she doesn’t mean it.”

 

            Eliza gave her arm a comforting squeeze, “she feels awful. I know she won’t have told you that, because she’s still hurting, but she does. I was going to see if she’ll talk to me tomorrow; I thought it’s worth a shot, and it might help her get some stuff off her chest. She went the therapy this week, right?”

 

            Nodding, Lena swallowed the lump in her throat, “yeah, Thursday night actually wasn’t that bad. I guess she must’ve talked about some things there. It’s just ... we don’t have time to talk. She’s not doing okay, my mom’s got her chemo so we’re rushing around looking after her, Daisy’s trying to run away and causing trouble, as per usual. Lily ... god knows what she’s up to, because she’s the only one who’s not kicking up a fuss about something. That’s got me worried too, because I was shunned to the side when I was younger, and I don’t want her to think I don’t love her as much because there’s so much going on.”

 

            “Take a deep breath,” Eliza said, looking slightly startled by the rant, as she rubbed Lena’s arm, “Lily knows you love her. You need to stop worrying about everyone else and take care of yourself. Kara said you’ve barely been home from the office all week. When have you slept? Are you eating properly? And god, I know you’re pale, but you look sick, honey. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just want you to look after yourself.”

 

            Blinking back tears, Lena ducked her head down, swirling the water around in her glass as she let out a shuddering breath. “I’ll be okay. I just want everyone else to be okay.”

 

            “Okay,” Eliza murmured, wrapping her arms around Lena and giving her back a quick rub, “now, where’s that troublemaker granddaughter of mine? I haven’t seen her since I got here, and I have some words for her too. I always thought she was like you, but it looks like she has her mother’s stupid knack for putting herself in harms way. The army? God knows what she was thinking.”

 

            Scanning the crowd of party guests, Lena frowned when she spotted Lily, Carter and Ruby huddled up in a corner, with Daisy nowhere in sight. “She should be around here somewhere.”

 

            Eliza looked around as well, and they were soon joined by Sam, who Lena smiled brightly at. “Who’re you looking for?” Sam whispered, following Lena’s line of sight.

 

            “Daisy,” Lena sighed, giving her friend an exasperated look.

 

            “Ah, right, well the last time I saw her, she was talking to Alex,” Sam said, and Lena quickly spotted her sister-in-law, talking to Gayle and a scientist from Lillian’s company.

 

            “Who’re you looking for?” Kara asked, appearing at Lena’s side and giving her mom a kiss on the cheek, careful not to leave a mark.

 

            Lena gave her a warm smile, reaching out to let her fingertips graze Kara’s lower back, “no one. Just seeing who showed up.”

 

            Nodding, Kara gave her a small smile, and Lena felt her heart flutter, which turned into a fast pounding as she blushed slightly at Kara’s next words. “I forget to tell you earlier, but you look beautiful tonight.”

 

            Ducking her head to hide her pink cheeks, Lena smiled, reaching out to pick up Kara’s hand, and rubbed her thumb over the knuckles. “So do you.”

 

            “I’d better get back to mingling,” Kara quietly said, “I’ll speak to you later, Sam. Mom, do you mind sitting with Lillian for a moment? I left her over near the window.”

 

            Everyone mumbled some reply, and Eliza walked off with Kara, and Sam caught the attention of another woman from L-Corp, excusing herself from Lena, as she fell into conversation with her. Wandering around by herself, Lena made polite conversation with Kara’s colleagues, laughed with Kara’s friends, who had flown in, and promised Veronica a round of poker later on in the night, with an assurance to Lucy that she’d teach her how to play. Spotting Jess in the crowd, talking to Winn, Lena spared a few minutes with them, catching up on everything that they hadn’t spoken about on the phone. Really, she was trying to find her daughter though, but with no luck, she walked over to the three girls clustered in one corner.

 

            “Lils, have you seen your sister?” Lena wearily asked.

 

             “She should be back soon, I guess,” Lily shrugged, looking down at the screen of the handheld video game Ruby was playing.

 

            Frowning, Lena crossed her arms over her chest, “back? Where did she go?”

 

            Looking up at her mom with a confused look on her face, Lily frowned slightly, “she said you told her to go to the store and buy more ice.”

 

            “Wha- never mind,” Lena sighed, brushing her daughter’s hair back and kissing her on the head, “thanks love. Be good, girls.”

 

            Walking away, Lena slipped out into the hallway and grabbed her phone from where she’d stowed it on the side table in the foyer. Dialling Daisy’s number, she listened to it ring for what felt like forever, before going to voicemail. “Dais, where are you? You better get your ass home as soon as possible. It’s your mom’s birthday party, and I won’t let you spoil it by running off again. Come home, now.”

 

            Tossing her phone back onto the counter, Lena stalked back into the party, her lips pressed together in a thin line, and she brushed past Alex, feeling irritated at her family keeping secrets from her. A part of her couldn’t help but feel like that was ironic that she was mad about her keeping secrets from her, when that was how things had gone so wrong with her own daughter. An arm pulled her back, and Lena jerked her head around to look at Alex expectantly. “What?”

 

            “Can we talk for a second? It’s important,” Alex quietly said, a pleading and serious look on her face. “Daisy’s not here.”

 

            “I know,” Lena said, giving Alex a questioning look as they slipped back out of the room. “Lily said she said I sent her for ice.”

 

            Alex pursed her lips slightly, looking down at her hands as she fiddled with her fingers, before looking up and meeting Lena’s eyes. “So, Maggie just got a call ... I need you to not get mad, but Daisy’s at the gas station on Fifty-Second and Pine.”

 

            Pinching the bridge of her nose, Lena sighed, “what do you mean Maggie got a call?”

 

            “Uh, it’s possible that two of her cop friends ... well, they haven’t arrested her yet, which is good. They know Daisy’s her niece so they called Mags and told her that they’d picked her up. I’m not sure what she did, but it’s obviously not serious.”

 

            “For fuck’s sake,” Lena sighed, “why can’t she just behave? I’ll go and get her. Don’t tell Kara, she’s already got enough to deal with.”

 

            Alex quickly nodded, “of course.”

 

            Crossing over to the coat rack, Lena pulled one on and quickly buttoned it up, glancing up at Alex who hovered nearby, “I’m still mad at you for not telling me you knew she enlisted.” Alex blinked in surprise and opened her mouth to try and justify her reasons, but Lena gave her a stern look that cut her off. “I’ll be back soon.”

 

            Without another word, she picked up her keys and was out of the house, leaving the sounds of music and chatter behind her, feeling glad that she had forgone drinking for the night as she slid into the drivers seat of her car.

 

---

 

            By the time she pulled into the gas station, the red and blue police lights flashing, she could see Daisy sitting in the back of the police car, while both of the cops were talking to a man, who had his hands cuffed behind his back. Throwing the car into park, Lena climbed out and splashed through a puddle, breathing in the smell of gas and rain as she strode towards the police cruiser.

 

            “Ah, Mrs Danvers-Luthor,” one of the cops greeted her, “we have your daughter in the back of our car.”

 

            “Yes, thank you for calling Mag- Captain Sawyer,” Lena curtly replied, “what did she do?”

 

            The younger cop laughed, giving Lena a slight smile, “usual teenager stuff. Getting this guy to buy her cigarettes. He’s been dealing around the area; not exactly a good person for your daughter to get involved with.”

 

            Closing her eyes, Lena took a deep breath, before her eyes fluttered open again and she gave the cops a tight smile. “Thank you for your concern, I can assure you I completely agree.”

 

            “She’s in the back of the car. She’s free to go,” the other cop told her, walking over to the car and opening the door.

 

            “Feel free to give her a scare,” Lena said, and unimpressed look on her face as she watched the cop beckon for Daisy to get out of the car.

 

            Lena watched as a pair of booted feet stepped out, followed by the lanky form of her daughter, who was still wearing the dress she’d been wearing at the party, with her scruffy, oversized black jacket thrown over the top. Her dark hair fell in her face, and she wouldn’t look up as she stepped out, her heels scraping on the floor as she hunched over, looking smaller than she was. Listening silently as the cop gave her daughter a stern talking to, Lena watched with a hard look on her face, trying to stamp down her anger. The last week had just been one thing after another, and Lena was fed up. Eventually, the cop gave her a stern look and told Daisy she was free to go home with her mom, and Lena pressed her lips together as she clamped a hand down on her daughter’s shoulder, thanked the officers and steered her towards the car.

 

            Daisy got into the passenger seat without complaint, knowing that testing Lena right now would be a big mistake. Instead, they made their way out of the gas station and melded into traffic, sitting in tense silence for a few moments. Then Lena couldn’t hold her tongue any longer, and she turned to look at Daisy, who was staring out the window. “Where are your car keys?”

 

            Digging them out of her coat pocket, Daisy held them up in a silent response, and before she could put them away, Lena snatched them out of her hand and tucked them safely in her own coat pocket. Spluttering, Daisy turned to look at her, “what are you doing?”

 

            “You’re not having your car,” Lena flatly replied, her knuckles white as she tightly gripped the steering wheel. “You’re not going out with your friends. You’re not going to cadets anymore. From now on, you do what you’re told, when you’re told. You can go to school, and you’ll go to your lessons after school, and if you need a ride anywhere, your mom or I will take you.”

 

            “You can’t-“

 

            Turning to look at her, eyes blazing with anger, Lena gave her a cool look and cut her off, “I can. You live under my roof, you are a child, and I’m not letting you get away with anything anymore. There are consequences to your actions and you have to learn that. If you keep running around doing whatever you want, you’re going to get yourself into trouble. You’re going to get arrested, or worse, and I’ve had it with your childish games.”

 

            Kicking the dashboard, Daisy crossed her arms over her chest, sinking down low into her seat. “This isn’t fair!” she tearfully exclaimed, “you can’t do this! I’m going to be eighteen soon.”

 

            “And when you’re eighteen, and you’re not living under my roof or having everything paid for by me, you can do whatever you want,” Lena snapped, “but until then, you'd better not step out of line once. Do you hear me?”

 

            “And you wonder why I wanted to live with Aunt Alex,” Daisy coldly retorted, furiously wiping at her eyes.

 

            “I don’t care who you want to live with - you live with me,” Lena muttered, clenching her teeth, “you’re not old enough to make your own decisions. You’ve made that perfectly clear. Your mom and I have let you get away with far too much, and enough is enough. No more arguments, that’s final.”

 

            Making a sound of surprise, Daisy protested, her eyes glistening with tears as she scowled at Lena. “You can’t tell me what to do!”

 

            “Of course I can, I’m your mother,” Lena curtly replied.

 

            “Not my real one,” Daisy sharply replied.

 

            Lena winced slightly at the scathing words, her mouth opening and closing as she tried to come up with something to say. Never had Daisy made a comment about Lena not being her biological mother - it had never mattered, not when Lena and Kara were both adopted themselves - and to have it thrown in her face hurt more than Lena would’ve thought. It was a low blow and both of them knew it, and Lena felt herself falter as she fumbled for a reply, the anger replaced with hurt. “Yes, I am. We are. We’re the only mom’s you’ve ever had. It doesn’t matter what you think.”

 

            “Well how about I think I wish you weren’t my mom, huh? Does that matter? No wonder grandma never liked you, it’s because you’re so uptight all the time. And hypocritical. It’s fine for you to do worse things than I’ve done, but not for me?” Daisy hotly told her.

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena shook her head, her eyes watching the road, illuminated by the headlights as trees and houses flashed past on either side, the city giving way to neighbourhoods. “I don’t want you to end up like me. I want your life to be better than mine. I wish you could see that I only want what’s best for you.”

 

            “Best for me? Best for me? Controlling every part of my life isn’t what’s best for me! You’re the only thing that’s wrong! You and mom. Keeping secrets and making me do things I don’t want to do, like college. I’d be better off without a mom. I wish you were dead,” Daisy exclaimed, kicking at the dashboard again.

 

            Lena felt the air rush out of her lungs, as if she’d been punched in the stomach, as she turned to look at her daughter, who looked slightly startled and pale as she looked at Lena, almost as if she couldn’t believe she’d said it. Her voice dangerously low as she hoarsely replied, Lena felt her eyes prickle with tears. “Don’t you ever, ever say that again. You don’t know what it’s like to lose a mother. Your mom- don’t you ever say that again.”

 

            Taking it as a challenge, Daisy stubbornly raised her chin, her blue eyes glinting with anger as she stared at Lena, “I wish you were-“

 

            Neither of them saw the headlights coming at the intersection. One second Lena had been driving through the green light, turning to look at her daughter, who was halfway through finishing her sentence, and the next, a semi-trailer truck slammed into Lena’s side of the car, cutting Daisy’s words off as the sleek sports car flipped. They rolled twice and skidded on the roof of the car, the screeching of metal piercing as the paint was stripped away and the car spun. It was late, and on the outskirts of the city, but a few cars were still around, honking as they swerved out of the way of the car skidding down the road. They came to a stop as they careened off the road and thudded to a stop in the side of a tree.

 

            Everything seemed suddenly quiet as Lena hung upside down, her seatbelt holding her in place as glass rained down around her from the busted window and windscreen. She couldn’t feel anything except something hot trickling down her face as she shook, her breathing rapid as she tried to process what had happened. Stiffly turning her head, Lena let out a small whimper as she took in the bloodstained, pale face of her daughter, who had her eyes closed in what Lena prayed was unconsciousness. Reaching out with a leaden arm, that took all of her strength to move, Lena fumbled as she gently brushed her fingertips against Daisy’s bloody cheek, smearing it slightly and trembling as she stared in horror. She only managed to whimper one broken word before everything went dark.

 

            “Daisy.”

Chapter Text

         “Where’s Lena?” Kara murmured to Alex, frowning slightly as she scanned the room, “and Daisy? Are they arguing somewhere.”


          “Oh, uh, no,” Alex said, “they, uh, went to get some ice.”


          Kara narrowed her eyes at her sister, “we have a whole freezer full of ice, Alex, where are they?”


          Sighing, Alex shrugged, glancing down at her watch, “I don’t know. She’s been gone for almost two hours. I thought she’d be back by now.”


          “Wha-“


          “Time for the cake!” Eliza excitedly said, taking both of her daughter’s by the hand and pulling them towards the middle of the room. Everyone gathered around while Lily and Carter carried in a massive cake between them, lit up with dozens of candles and beautifully decorated.


          Kara plastered a bright smile on her face as everyone burst into a chorus of happy birthday, standing around her in a circle while she awkwardly waited for them to finish. She couldn’t help but feel hurt though, and her eyes prickled with tears because Lena wasn’t there and neither was Daisy. Despite everything, they were a family, and it hurt Kara more than anything to think that they’d just left, for no reason, and hadn’t come back. Apparently birthday parties weren’t important when you were fighting, and Kara swallowed the lump in her throat, blinking quickly as the song came to an end and she blew out all of her candles. Smiling brightly as everyone clapped, she took the offered knife and smiled as Alex took photos of her cutting the cake.


          Eliza and Maggie took the cake back into the kitchen to cut it into slices for everyone, and Kara smiled and hugged her friends, chatting animatedly to James, Lucy and Winn, before turning to thank other people. She couldn’t help but feel ridiculous though, wearing the dress she’d picked out specifically for Lena, hoping she’d like it, and the red lipstick that Lena usually favoured, even going as far as to wear contacts for a change, just to look different for her wife. And she wasn’t even here. Kara felt even worse for not realising sooner, but Lena had wanted to keep her distance, so Kara had left her alone all night, not wanting to pester her by constantly popping up, because she didn’t want them to argue later on. Now she wondered if maybe she’d made more of an effort, Lena would’ve stayed.


          “Kara,” Jess said, looking panicked and pale as she pushed through the crowd, “there’s police here, at the door. They’re asking for you.”


          “Police?” Kara scoffed, “we have a whole estate, we can’t have gotten a noise complaint. I doubt I’d even hear us from the third floor.”


          Shrugging helplessly, Jess gestured vaguely towards the door and Kara sighed, draining her drink and quickly brushing past guests, she walked out into the foyer, shivering slightly as cold air flooding in through the door hit her exposed arms and legs. “Officers, hi, how can I help you?” Kara politely asked.


          “Roebuck? White? What’re you doing where?” Maggie’s voice rang out from behind Kara, “shouldn’t you be ... dealing with that problem you called me about?”


          “Captain,” the older officer said, giving Maggie a quick nod, “we, uh, we did, but ... we got a call, and, we’ll, considering the personal nature to you, we thought we’d come ourselves. We weren’t sure how long the hospital-“ he took a deep breath, turning back to Kara, “Mrs Danvers-Luthor, we received a call at ten-nineteen this evening about an accident on Fifteenth and Richmond involving two passengers identified as a Mrs Lena Danvers-Luthor and Miss Daisy Danvers-Luthor.”


          “What,” Kara hoarsely replied, feeling faint as the words registered in her mind.


          “Both of them are currently being transported to Metropolis City Hospital to be treated. I can’t say what condition they’re in, but you should be expecting a call from the hospital to inform you-“


          The rest of what was being said faded away as Kara stood there, frozen in shock. There had been an accident. Lena and Daisy were in a car accident. They were being taken to hospital. A small broken sob fell past Kara’s lips as she tried to process everything, and she could feel Maggie’s hands on her shoulders, gently shaking her, while other people gathered around. Bursting into tears, Kara’s legs buckled beneath her, and she sagged, caught by Alex and Maggie, feeling as if the rug had been pulled out from under her feet. She’d thought they’d been angry at her, she hadn’t even realised either of them had left, and Kara felt hollow and numb as she tried to get herself to focus. The hospital. They were being taken to the hospital, and that’s where she needed to go.


          “The hospital,” she breathed, brushing people off her as she lurched for the small table pushed up against the wall, fishing her car keys out of the drawer. “I-I need to go-“


          Warm fingers were prying the keys out of her hand, and Kara stared at Alex with wide eyes, the room spinning slightly. Her sister’s eyes were full of concern as she looked at Kara, shaking her head. “You can’t drive. You’ve had too much to drink.”


          Snatching the keys back off her, Kara numbly shook her head, “I have to- I need to get to the hospital.”


          “Kara,” Eliza quietly said, placing a hand on her shoulder, “Alex is right, you’re in no position to drive right now. You’ll end up getting into an accident as well.”


          Sobbing, Kara stumbled backwards, “it’s my wife, and my little girl. I can’t just- I-I have to go. I have to get there. I don’t care.”


          “I’ll drive,” Lillian hoarsely piped up, looking even paler than usual, “I haven’t been drinking. I’m the most sober out of everyone.”


          “Lillian, you’re too weak, you should be sitting down,” Eliza gently told her.


          “She’s my daughter,” Lillian curtly replied, “and my granddaughter. Whether I drive her or not, I’m going.”


          Sighing at the stubbornness of the Luthor women, Eliza nodded and handed the keys over to Lillian, who gave her a grateful nod. Kara was rushing towards the door, with Lillian in tow, when a small voice cut through the panic.


          “Mom?” Turning around, Kara felt as if she’d been kicked in the stomach at the sight of her other daughter standing there, a look of worry on her face. “What’s going on?”


          Rushing over to her, Kara crouched slightly, cupping Lily’s face in her hands, “mom and Daisy were in an accident. I need to go and meet them at the hospital. You stay here with Aunt Alex and Maggie, okay?”


          “But-“


          Gritting her teeth, Kara gave Lily a tight smile, “please, Lils, for me. They’ll bring you to see them later, okay? I love you.”


          Throwing her arms around her, Kara closed her eyes and exhaled sharply, drawing comfort from the fact that one of her kids was here and safe. Kissing the top of her head, Kara pulled back and gave Lily another reassuring look, even though she was panicking like she’d never panicked before. “I love you too,” Lily said, “can you tell mom and Daisy too, when you see them.”


          “Of course, darling,” Kara choked out, “and you can tell them yourself later.”


          Leaving her daughter behind, Kara stepped outside into the frigid cold, quickly reaching out for Lillian’s arm to help guide her down the steps, and over to the garage, seeking out the car that lit up when Lillian pressed the unlock button. Both of them wasted no time getting into the car, and Kara was still fumbling with her seatbelt as Lillian sped down the driveway.


          The speed at which her mother-in-law was frightening, but Kara was glad that Lillian had her foot down, because she could feel herself panicking; she needed to see Lena and Daisy. They’d spent a whole week arguing out of their own fears, and Kara was breathlessly sobbing as she balled her hands into fists against the cool leather seats, thinking about how much she’d blamed Lena for her own mistakes, and hadn’t tried hard enough to bring her daughter home.


          “This is my fault,” Kara sobbed, her voice cracking as she squeezed her eyes shut, her shoulders shaking as she cried.


          “No it’s not,” Lillian told her in a low voice, “it’ll be okay. They’ll be fine, we’ll be there in a minute.”


          “I didn’t tell her I love her today,” Kara said, “neither of them. What if I don’t-“


          Lillian gave her a sharp look, before her gaze softened slightly and she reached out to grab Kara’s hand, giving it a quick squeeze. “They know. They both know you love them, and you can tell them when we see them,” Lillian said, her voice shaking slightly.


          One thing Lillian was was cool and collected, and to see cracks in her carefully constructed guard made Kara panic even more, until she could feel a panic attack coming on, and her breathing turned ragged. She could hear Lillian sternly talking to her, but her words fell on deaf ears as Kara choked on her sobs, wrapping her arms around herself to keep it together. It was all happening so fast and Kara felt as if her whole life was being flipped around. That morning she’d barely spoken a few words to Lena, and she’d been dreading her party, given the tension between everyone in her family, and now she wasn’t sure what state her family was in. Taking deep breaths to try and calm herself down, Kara silently prayed that they would be okay; she couldn’t lose anyone else, especially not them.


          They flew into the parking lot of the hospital, skidding as Lillian pulled up outside the front door, and Kara didn’t even wait for the car to stop before she climbed out. Tripping in her heels, bunching up the skirt of her dress in one hand, Kara rushed to the doors, which parted too slowly for her liking as she impatiently tried to get inside. Running over to the front desk, knowing she looked a mess with her ruined makeup and crazed look in her eyes, Kara braced herself on the counter.


          “My wife and daughter- I need to see them. Their names are Lena and Daisy Danvers-Luthor. Can you tell me where they are? I need to see them,” Kara blurted out, barely able to even get the words out without stumbling over them.


          “Hang on a moment, ma’am, I’ll just check and see if they’ve been admitted yet and find out what’s happening,” a nurse said.


          Running a hand through her hair, Kara’s eyes welled up with tears and she choked on a sob, “I need to see them.”


          Then Lillian was behind her, a cool hand on her bare shoulder, looking weak and frail as she tried to comfort Kara, despite her own fears. “Sh, it’s okay,” Lillian murmured, “let’s sit down and wait. There’s nothing you can do to help. We just need to be patient and let them take care of them. They’ll come and tell us when they know more.”


          Weakly nodding, Kara let Lillian lead her over to one of the squeaky chairs in the corner, already occupied by a few other people waiting for their own loved ones. Slumping in the chair as her whole body gave out beneath her, Kara closed her eyes, focusing on breathing evenly as she clutched to Lillian’s hand like a lifeline. Her heart hurt and her stomach ached, and the overwhelming feeling of dread threatened to tip Kara over the edge. She was hunched over, her head in her hand as she silently shook, every inch of her filled with a terror she’d never felt before. This was different to what she’d been through - this was her family, her heart - and Kara had never felt so scared and helpless in her entire life.


          Memories circled around her mind as she waited for a doctor to come and talk to her, praying that it would be good news. Memories of harsh words that she’d regretted the moment she’d said them, cold shoulders that they were both too stubborn to move past, and secrets that she wished she’d never kept. Everything had just spiralled, and no matter how hard she’d tried to not let it all fall apart, they had been on a slow downwards spiral and all she’d done was watch. Now everything had come to a crashing stop, as Kara feared the worst, with nowhere else to go. The only way things could get worst was if the unthinkable happened, and Kara wouldn’t even go near those thoughts, even though fear took hold in her heart that it could be a possibility.


          They were waiting half an hour before a doctor appeared in front of them, in a neatly pressed lab coat and an unruffled appearance, as if it was a calm Saturday night, and nothing was wrong. Kara was on her feet in an instant, wringing her hands nervously as she looked at the young doctor with wide, hopeful eyes.


          “Mrs Danvers- Luthor, hi, I’m Doctor Freeman,” she said, holding a hand out to shake Kara’s hand, and then Lillian’s. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, I know how hard this must be.”


          “Are they okay?” Kara hoarsely asked, cutting through all the niceties and soothing talk.


          The doctor sighed slightly, giving her a grim smile, “Daisy’s in a stable condition. She’s got multiple fractures and a concussion, but she’ll make a full recovery. She’s still unconscious at the moment, but you’ll be able to see her once we set her up in a private room.”


          “And my wife?” Kara asked, some of her fear easing at the news that her daughter was okay, but her mind going haywire at the avoidance of anything about Lena.


          “Your wife is in surgery at the moment. I can’t say much, but it was her side that was hit. She’s stable, for now, and I’ll keep you updated throughout the surgery.”


          Bottom lip trembling, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat, blinking back tears as she let out a shuddering breath. “Will she be okay?”


          The doctor gave her a pitying look and a slight grimace, “I’m sorry, I can’t say for sure. I don’t have enough information to tell you that. She’ll be out of surgery shortly, and we’ll know more then.”


          Closing her eyes, Kara breathed deeply, before the fluttered open again, “thank you.”


          Nodding, the doctor turned around and walked off, and Kara all but collapsed back down onto her chair, while Lillian lowered herself down beside her. They were both silent for a moment, listening to the phone ring and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights, and Kara felt sick from the smell of disinfectant that permeated the building. It was making her feel woozy, and Kara had to clench her hands into fists to stop herself from shaking. Lillian was still murmuring quiet, reassuring things, and Kara wasn’t sure whether it was for her benefit or Lillian’s.


          It was almost another half an hour before a doctor came and told them that they could see Lily, and Kara was on her feet in an instant, her heart in her throat and her pulse thudding in her ears as she walked through the glaringly white hallways, passing patients and doctors, and taking in the bustling business of the hospital. It seemed strange that life was going on normally for everyone here, while her own world felt like it was falling apart. They were taken up to the children’s ward, and into a private room, thanks to the expensive health care Lena had them take out as a precaution, and Kara let out a broken sob as she took in the sight of her daughter laying in the hospital bed.


          Daisy’s skin was deathly pale, and her dark hair was lankly splayed around her head, an oxygen mask covering her mouth and nose as she lay unconscious. Running over to her side, Kara stared down at her, reaching out with a shaky hand to brush the hair out of her face, before bending down and pressing a kiss to her forehead. Caressing her daughter’s cool cheek with trembling fingers, Kara let out a shuddering sob, taking in the dark bruises already blossoming across the pale skin, and the stitches at her hairline. She didn’t even want to begin guessing at what the bumps under the scratchy blanket meant, and she felt herself overcome with relief. Lillian was checking the beeping monitors, while the doctor rattled off a list of injuries to her, but Kara was too busy staring at Daisy’s face to even consider tuning into the conversation.


          “Oh god, my little girl,” Kara softly whimpered, choking back a sob, “you’re okay. I’m here; mom’s here.”


          “Of course she’ll be okay, she’s a fighter like her mom’s,” Lillian softly sighed, coming to stand beside Kara as she looked down at her granddaughter, reaching out to give her limp plastered hand a gentle squeeze, mindful of the wires, “god knows you’ve all seen enough of hospitals and come out the other side okay.”


          Nodding, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat, “she looks so small.”


          Giving her back a gentle rub, Lillian grimaced, “she’s so tall and eager to prove she’s not a child that sometimes it’s easy to forget that she’s still so young. God, what were they both doing.”


          “She should be here,” Kara tearfully said, staring down at Daisy as she stood with her hands resting on her shoulder and the other balled up in the blanket. “All she’s ever wanted is to be a good mom. She’ll be kicking herself that she’s not here to look after Daisy.”


          “Lena always wants to be able to do everything at the same time,” Lillian disapprovingly said, “maybe this will force her to slow down.”


          “Maybe,” Kara muttered, pushing aside thoughts of whether or not Lena would have the chance to slow down. She was stable, which was a good sign, but Kara wasn’t sure what state she was in, and it could all go south in a heartbeat. Kara knew that all too well. “She’ll be okay,” Kara said, speaking more to herself than to Lillian, “she has to be. We were supposed to be taking the girls to National City together soon. A month ago we were- we were fine. It was Christmas and she was wearing one of the sweaters I made for her. And Daisy ... I should’ve told her sooner. I-I messed everything up.”


          “She’ll be okay, Kara. Both of them will; they’re Luthor’s and they’re fighters. It might not be in their blood, but it’s in their upbringing,” Lillian brusquely told her, “just be patient. I know it’s hard, and I won’t tell you not to worry, but your daughter is fine. She’ll be out in a few days, and that’s something. Lena ... we’ll just have to be patient a little while longer to find out if she-“


          Lillian cut off, unwilling to finish her sentence as she thought about her own daughter. Nodding, Kara looked down at Daisy, and she knew that whatever happened, she’d have to be okay for her girls, because both of them were safe. She still had both of her girls, and that was a relief, if nothing else was. Turning away for just a moment, Kara took Lillian by the elbow and guided her over to the armchair near the window, before pulling one of the stiff visitors chairs over to the side of the bed and sitting down in it, clutching onto her daughter’s hand as if she was afraid that she was going to disappear if Kara let go.


---


          It was hours until there was any news about Lena, and Kara didn’t sleep at all and her eyes were burning as she sat in the dark, the steady beeping of the heart monitor a small comfort as she watched her daughter sleep. Alex had called twice from the house for an update, and Kara had spoken to a teary Lily, who was too worried to sleep, but she had no news to give them about Lena. A doctor had come to tell her she was still in surgery, and still stable, but that was all that Kara knew.


          Dawn was a few hours off, and Lillian was fast asleep in the armchair, when a different doctor gently knocked on the door as she poked her head inside. Kara blearily looked at the woman, instantly more alert as she climbed to her feet, casting a look back at Daisy, before walking over to the door and slipping out into the hallway.


          “Mrs Danvers-Luthor,” The doctor said, holding out a hand for Kara to shake, “I’m Doctor Clarke, your wife’s surgeon.”


          “How is she?” Kara asked, a tight feeling in her chest as she fought back the urge to be sick.


          The woman gave her a grim look that almost stopped Kara’s heart, before the next words eased the fear that had stuck with her since the cops had shown up at her house. “She’s alive. She’s stable but we had to put her on mechanical ventilation due to a pulmonary contusion from the blunt for trauma of the accident. With the bruising to her lung, she’s unable to get enough oxygen on her own, but that’s what the ventilator is for. There was some internal bleeding in the abdomen as well from lacerations to the spleen, but we managed to seal the ends of the leaking blood vessels and relieve the pressure. There’s also a few broken bones which have been set and put in plaster.”


          Kara felt the air rush out of her lungs as she tipped her head back, running her fingers through her hair. “Oh god, so she’s okay? She’s going to be fine? When can I see her?”


          The doctor hesitated slightly, and Kara gave her an impatient look, antsy about seeing her wife, and the woman gave her a pitying smile. “With the severe bruising of her lung, the ventilator means that she can’t be conscious until she can breathe properly on her own again. We’ve put Lena into a medically induced coma so that she’ll be more comfortable while the machine helps her breathe. With the extra strain on her body with the other injuries, it’ll help her heal better, and without the pain of being awake.”


          “A coma?” Kara numbly echoed, her voice cracking as she stared at the woman in horror. “No, she can’t- when is she going to wake up? I need to see her- I need to say-“


          “I can’t be certain, but it could be as little as a few hours, but perhaps a few days. It all depends on when she starts breathing on her own so we can remove the ventilator and reverse the effects of the drugs,” Doctor Clarke said, reaching out to give Kara’s shoulder a quick squeeze, “I’m sorry, and I know it doesn’t sound like it, but this is good news. She’s in the ICU, I can take you to her if you’d like.”


          Casting a glance back at Daisy’s closed door, Kara nodded, blinking back tears, “yes please, just ... one second.”


          She walked back over to the door, opening it and slipping into the dark room, listening to the beeping and whirring of machines, and she walked over to Lillian, gently shaking her awake. Slowly coming to her senses, Lillian frowned as she looked around and then bolted up in realisation, staring at Kara’s pale face looming out of the dark room. “Is she okay?”


          Shaking her head, Kara choked on a sob, “she’s in a- in a medically induced coma.”


          Lillian exhaled sharply, “what for? Did they say what for? Brain damage? Brain swelling? Heart contusion?”


          “A pulmonary contusion,” Kara said, closing her eyes as her bottom lip trembled, “she’s on a ventilator.”


          Holding a hand to her heart, Lillian sank back down onto the chair, leaning forward slightly as she let out  shaky breath. “Well this is good. At least it’s not her brain. She’ll get better and they’ll take her off the ventilator when she starts breathing better again. She’ll be fine. This is nothing to worry about.”


          Kara made a strangled sound of surprise as she gave Lillian an incredulous look, still reeling from the fact that her wife was in a coma. Yet here was her mom, sitting there saying that it was nothing to worry about, as if a coma wasn’t anything serious. Of course, Kara trusted Lillian’s medical opinions, and knew she would be the last person to skirt around sensitive topics for the sake of softening the blow, so Kara knew that if Lillian said she’d be okay, then she would be.


          “I’m going to go and see her,” Kara hoarsely replied, “can you sit with Daisy? I don’t want her to be alone if she wakes up.”


          “Of course,” Lillian murmured, and Kara helped her to her feet, giving her a grim smile. Getting her balance, Lillian stared at Kara was a fierce look of determination in her eyes, and reached out to grab her by the shoulders. “They’re alive, Kara. They’re both alive, and this is good.”


          Nodding, Kara slowly breathed out, feeling some of the tension fade away. She wouldn’t feel okay until they were both awake and she could see for herself that they were both themselves, but they were alive, and that was all that mattered in the moment. To her surprise, Lillian gave her a quick hug, and Kara realised that she needed it as much as Kara did, and that despite her calm and collected appearance, Lillian had been as scared as she was.


          Pulling back, Kara led Lillian over to the chair beside the bed and stared down at Daisy, watching her chest gently rise and fall and her eyes flit from side to side beneath closed eyelids. Cupping her cheek, Kara pressed her lips together in a grim line, before bending down, “hey Dais, your mom’s out of surgery. She’s going to be okay - you both will - I’ll be back soon.” Kissing her on the forehead again, Kara sniffed and lingered a moment longer, before checking to make sure Lillian was okay, and walking back outside.


          Doctor Clarke was waiting for her outside, and she gave Kara a slight smile as the door clicked shut behind her. Falling into step beside her, they walked through the hallways, and Kara felt her panic growing with each step, unsure whether she’d be able to stomach seeing Lena on a ventilator, knowing she wasn’t going to wake up any moment.


          “I know it must be hard having them both in here,” Doctor Clarke hesitantly said, and Kara turned to look at her, blinking in surprise. “How old’s your daughter.”


          “Seventeen,” Kara croaked.


          Smiling slightly, the doctor nodded, “ah, getting ready to go off to college soon. Is she your oldest? They always say it’s hard when the first leaves the nest.”


          Kara bit back a bubble of laughter at the talk of college, unsure what was going to happen with her daughter now. “Yes. I have another girl, she’s only fourteen.”


          “That’s a good age,” the other woman said, “they’re not afraid to admit they still need you.”


          Letting out a quick laugh, Kara wiped at her eyes, “yeah. God, I wish they never grew up. All they do is make you worry.”


          “She’ll be back on her feet in no time. I doubt a few broken bones will stop her,” the woman soothingly replied, “and your wife ... as soon as she can get all the oxygen she needs, she’ll be back to running her business. They’ll be giving you something else to worry about.”


          Kara silently thought about all of the things she already had to worry about, and she didn’t think she’d be able to bear anything else. This was almost too much to bear, and she couldn’t help but feel like something worse was waiting to happen, because it almost seemed like it wasn’t bad enough. She hadn’t lost anyone this time. Shaking as they approached the Intensive Care Unit, Kara could feel her bravery wavering, and she knew that the moment she saw Lena, what was left of her strength would fade. They neared a sliding door, and Kara let out a sharp gasp as she looking through the glass and into the small, isolated room, and the doctor gave her a small nod. Bottom lip trembling, Kara returned the nod and swallowed the lump in her throat, sliding the door open and slipping inside.


          If Daisy looked small, Lena looked tiny, and Kara let out a broken sob the moment the door shut behind her. The lumps under the bed spoke of all of her broken bones, but it was the sight of a tube snaking out of her mouth that was a glaringly obvious sign of her condition. The clicking and whirring of the ventilator mixed in win the beeping of the heart monitor, which was thankfully steady and strong, and Kara burst into tears as she neared the bed. Lena’s usually pale skin was sickly and ashen, and with her mottled and bruised skin, Kara could’ve believed that she was dead. Her eyes were swollen shut and ringed by purplish-blue bruises that Kara knew were going to turn a nasty shade of black, and Kara didn’t know how desperate she was to see those beautiful sea green eyes until she couldn’t. She didn’t even know where to touch her - there were wires and bruises and casts everywhere - and Kara just wanted to throw her arms around her and hold her close.


          “Lena,” she said, her voice breaking as tears slid down her cheeks, “Lena, it’s me. It’s Kara. You’re safe now, they’re looking after you here. Daisy’s okay too, she’s fine. You need to wake up, love, you have to- you need to be there when she wakes up. Just wake up, please. Please just breathe on your own, I need you to wake up. There’s so much I have to say to you, and I don’t know if you can hear me like this.”


          She paused, almost as if she was waiting for a response, but the sound of the machines working were the only response she got, and the steady dripping of the drugs being administered through an IV. Reaching out, Kara gently traced the curve of Lena’s bruise and grazed cheekbone, her fingertips leaving a ghost of her touch because she was too scared to even touch her properly. Pulling a chair over to the bed, Kara collapsed into it, reaching out to gently cover Lena’s plaster covered hand with her own, her fingers running over her wife’s cold fingertips.


          “I’ll tell you anyway, and I’ll tell you again if you don’t remember,” Kara told her, sniffing as she tried to stop herself from crying. “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry, Lena. This is all my fault. I know it wasn’t me who- who did this ... but if we weren’t fighting - if I’d told Daisy - you might not be here. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have blamed you for everything. I wasn’t mad at you, not really, I just- I was scared, and I didn’t know how to tell you that. I should’ve told you I loved you. I didn’t tell you yesterday, because I-I forgot, but I should’ve remembered because I do. I love you. I need you to wake up for me, because I can’t do this without you, Lena. I know you told your mom you didn’t have enough time with her, and I know you’re going to be fine, but we haven’t had enough time either. You- you’re everything I’ve ever needed, and I’m sorry that things have been so bad lately, but I know we’ll be okay, because I have you. And the girls ... Daisy’s going to be okay too. I know you’ll probably blame yourself for her being hurt, but she just has a few broken bones. She’ll be awake soon, when the drugs start wearing off, and I know she’ll want to see you. I don’t want her to see you like this though; you look worse than you did when you got stabbed, which is saying something.”


          Kara let out a strangled laugh, her breathing hitching as she wiped at her wet cheeks, “it’s okay, I still think you’re beautiful though. I thought that was going to be the last thing I said to you, at the party. I was so scared. I mean, it’s not a bad last thing to say to you, but we’ve been fighting so much and I just ... I want you to know that I love you. You know Eliza likes to say that she could believe I fell in love with you just by looking into your eyes the first time. I think she might have a point, because you have such beautiful eyes. I need you to open them for me, love. I need to see that look you always give me - I know you know the one I’m talking about. It’s that stare, the one that makes you look like you’re daydreaming about kissing me instead of listening to what I’m saying. I love it; it makes me feel like we’re still young.”


          Sighing, Kara rested her forehead on the edge of the thin mattress, breathing in the chemical smell of the room, and the faint smell of antiseptic that clung to Lena, chasing away the usual smell of her perfume that was as familiar to Kara as her own. Listening to the monitor beep out the steady rhythm of Lena’s heart, Kara stayed like that for a while, sitting in silence as she cried, too tired and full of guilt and fear to hold back an longer. The sun would be up in a few hours and everyone else would want to visit, and she couldn’t bear the thought of facing them all and seeing the look of pity in their eyes. She couldn’t face Lily either, and the thought of telling both girls that their mom wouldn’t wake up for a while made her heart ache. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be; they’d already been through their fair share of trouble and life threatening situations, and they were supposed to have a peaceful life now. Things were supposed to be great.


          She stayed until she stopped crying, and then she straightened up, wiping at her puffy eyes as she climbed to her feet. “I have to go back to Daisy now. You might not be waking up for a while, but she should be soon. I’ll send your mom in to sit sit with you though, so you’re not alone and I’ll come back in a few hours. I’ll ask my mom or Alex to get some stuff for you too, so you’ll be more comfortable. I love you, Lena.”


          Placing a featherlight kiss to her bruised forehead, Kara stared down at her wife’s almost unrecognisable face, swollen and discoloured, and felt a rush of love and longing. Walking over to the door, Kara slipped back out and shut it behind her, pressing her hand against the glass for a moment, before she turned and started walking back through the hospital. There was something eerie about being in a hospital in the early hours of the morning, and Kara moved through the hallways like she was invisible, while nurses slowly pushed patients in wheelchairs and doctors gathered around the desks, talking in quiet voices. No one seemed to be in a rush, and Kara was undisturbed as she walked through the ward, her heels clicking on the tiles as she shivered in her extravagant dress. She didn’t even have any change for cheap coffee from the cafeteria for her and Lillian, so she just walked back to Daisy’s room and woke Lillian up, sending her towards Lena’s room and taking up a spot beside Daisy’s bed.


          Nothing changed over the next few hours, and Kara’s eyes were burning as she watched her daughter, keeping a close eye on her as she listened to the machines beep and the soft sound of her breathing. At six o’clock, Kara got a call of Eliza and hoarsely filled her in on Lena’s situation, fighting back tears the whole time, and hung up with the assurances that that her mom would be there soon to come and visit them. In the mean time, Kara just sat there, waiting for Daisy to wake up, because she knew she couldn’t sleep, knowing that her daughter could wake up any moment and would need someone to be there for her. Just as she was stifling a yawn, fixing the blinds as a thin beam of light slipped through a gap, Kara heard a small groan from behind her and whirled around.


          Eyes shut, Daisy mumbled something unintelligible, her fingers twitching as she stirred, trying to fight off the drugs enough to open her eyes. Kara was at her side in an instant, hands nervously fluttering around her as she fought back the urge to touch her daughter. “Shh, you’re okay,” Kara hushed her, her voice full of relief as she blinked back tears, “mom’s here, you’re okay baby.”


          Struggling to open her eyes, Daisy blearily looked up at Kara, her eyebrows furrowing together as she tried to focus. “Mom?”


          “I’m here, sweetie,” Kara breathlessly sobbed, “I’m right here.”


          “Mom,” Daisy sobbed, her eyes fluttering closed as tears leaked out of the corners and her bottom lip trembled. “Mom, it hurts. What happened? Where am I?”


          Sniffing, Kara gently stroked her hair, giving her a tearful smile, “I know it hurts, darling. You were in a car accident, you’re in hospital now. You’re going to be okay.”


          “Where’s mom?” Daisy asked, her voice cracking as she fumbled to reach out for Kara’s hand, which immediately wrapped her cold fingers in its warmth.


          “Mom’s here too,” Kara told her, her voice hesitant and uncertain, not wanting to frighten her already panicked daughter, “she’s hurt too, but she’s- she’s going to be okay.”


          Still a little woozy from the drugs, Daisy frowned in confusion, shaking her head slightly, “it’s my fault, isn’t it?”


          “No, no, of course it’s not,” Kara soothingly reassured her, “it was an accident. Hold on a second, okay love? I’m going to go and get a doctor to come and take a look at you.” Letting out a small whimper as Kara let go of her hand, Daisy weakly nodded, and Kara quickly walked out the door, calling to the nearest doctor, before she walked back into the room.


          Her eyes widened as she watched Daisy struggling to sit up, one arm in a cast and the thin hospital gown bunched up around her waist. She was holding a bunch of wires in one hand and was trying to pull the IV out of her arm when Kara rushed over to the bed, stopping her before she pulled the cannula out. “Hey, no, you need to lay back down, Daisy. You’re hurt, you need to rest,” Kara ordered her, her hands on her shoulders as she tried to gently push her back down against the pillows.


          Letting out a small sob, Daisy shook her head, feebly trying to push back against Kara, even as she lost the fight. “No, no, no. I need to see mom, I need to- where is she? I have to see her. I have to say- I have to say sorry.”


          “Shh, it’s okay,” Kara murmured, looking down at her in concern as she brushed away tears and stray strands of hair, “you can see her later. You can see her when you feel better, okay? Just lay down. Look, your doctor’s here to see you.” Kara spared a glance for the doctor, who was expertly reconnecting the heart rate monitor wires back to Daisy’s finger and beneath the top of her hospital gown.


          “I said- I said things,” Daisy sobbed, “mom, I have to see her. Please. Please let me see mom. I need to know that she’s okay. I need to know that she’s not d-dead. Tell me she’s not dead.”


          Kara cupped her face in her shaking hands, perching on the edge of the bed while the doctor administered more painkillers and checked Daisy’s vitals, giving her a sad smile. She couldn’t lie to her, not when she was so adamant about seeing Lena. Even drugged up on painkillers, her daughter was quickly becoming  coherent enough to try and hurt herself to go and see her mom, and Kara knew nothing would stop her until she knew how she was. Drawing in a shuddering breath, Kara sighed, “your mom ... she’s having trouble breathing on her own right now. She’s going to be unconscious for a few days - I’m not sure how many - but she’s going to be okay. Both of you are going to be fine.”


          Letting out a relieved sigh, Daisy sank into the pillows as some of the tension bled out of her - although Kara suspected that some of that was to do with the fact that the painkillers were taking the edge off her pain too - and her eyelids fluttered shut as she mumbled. “She’s going to be okay.”


          “Yeah,” Kara quietly told her, bowing her head as she raised Daisy’s hand to press a kiss to the back of it. “Everything’s going to be fine, honey”.

Chapter Text

            Kara wheeled Daisy into Lena’s room, a slight smile on her face as she parked the wheelchair next to the bed and pulled a chair over to sit down beside her. “Hi love,” Kara softly said, stroking the back of Lena’s hand, “guess who’s here to see you.”

 

            “Hi mom,” Daisy quietly said, her voice hoarse and scratchy as she sat in her chair, unable to even get out of it to try and touch Lena. All she really wanted was for her to wake up and give her a hug.

 

            Kara fussed with the thick knitted blanket that was draped over Lena, making sure she was warm, before she turned and looked over at the doorway, where Lily hovered, looking pale and scared. It had been four days, and this was the first time Kara was letting either of the girls see Lena, because early that morning, she’d started breathing normally on her own, and they’d finally taken the ventilator out. They’d tried it yesterday, but her breathing had been a bit too shallow for the doctor’s liking, but today, she was ready to come off it, and ready to have her coma inducing drugs reversed. Kara was feeling hopeful for the first time in a while, and she was relieved that this would all be over soon. They could move onto fixing everything else once Lena was back on her feet.

 

            “Come inside, Lils. You’re letting in the cold air,” Kara told her, giving Daisy’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze as she stared at Lena.

 

            “She- she doesn’t look like mom,” Lily shakily replied, her blue eyes filling with tears, “she shouldn’t be in here. It’s- it’s all Daisy’s fault.”

 

            Her sister jerked her head around, shooting her sister a dark look, “shut up, Lily. You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

 

            Brimming with anger, Lily wiped at her eyes as she scowled, “she was coming to get you. You’re so selfish; you never think about anyone except yourself. She wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”

 

            “Cut it out,” Kara sharply replied, blinking in surprise at the animosity between her daughter’s. Given how close everyone was in their family, they’d been raised to get along well, and while they argued, like siblings do, they had never blamed each other for something like this. “It’s nobody’s fault, okay? Lily, go and find grandma and take her to the cafeteria.”

 

            “But I want to see mom,” she protested.

 

            “You can see her later,” Kara sternly told her, “this is a hospital, and there are patients who need to rest, including your mom. If you’re going to argue, then you can wait until Daisy’s finished seeing her.”

 

            Swallowing thickly, Lily turned around and stormed out of the room, closing the door behind her and stalking off. Kara sighed, feeling sorry for her youngest daughter. She’d been shunned to the side over the past month, and even more so now, but Kara couldn’t juggle it all right now. With her wife and daughter in hospital - Daisy had technically been released earlier on, but hadn’t gone home yet - Kara had been splitting her time between both rooms, and had barely been home, except to shower and change. Lily had been staying with both of her grandma’s, in Lillian’s apartment in the middle of the city, and Kara had tried to make time for her too, but it was hard, and a part of her felt like she was failing as a mother. Watching her daughter disappear down the hallway, Kara grimaced and turned back around, taking in her other daughter’s hunched shoulders.

 

            “She’s right,” Daisy mumbled, her voice strained as she fought back tears.

 

            Heart aching for the guilt she knew Daisy was feeling, Kara walked over to her wheelchair and knelt down beside her, reaching up to brush the dark curtain of hair out of her face. Sad blue eyes met hers for a moment, but she could see the shame in her daughter’s eyes, and she couldn’t understand why. Kara had tried to get her to talk, but if she’d been quiet before, she was practically mute now, and wouldn’t tell Kara what had happened. The gist of it was that they’d argued, and Kara knew from her own guilt and embarrassment at the way she’d treated Lena that it wasn’t something that she wanted to tell other people. She didn’t want them to know what horrible things she’d said in her anger and frustration, and she figured that it was the same with Daisy. Still, she wanted to help her daughter, and she didn’t know how. Daisy had seemed small and cowed over the past few days, having panic attacks and crying as she was forced to stay in the tiny hospital room, bedridden with casts that itched and nothing but a crappy TV and some paperbacks to pass the time.

 

            “Hey,” Kara gently said, giving her a searching look, “mom’s going to be okay. Lily’s not really mad at you, she’s just- she's worried, like you are. She was worried about you too. As soon as mom wakes up, it’ll all be okay. We’re going to need to have a long talk though, okay? No more running away or arguing; your mom and I are going to sit down with you, and we’re going to talk.”

 

            “Okay,” Daisy whispered, her voice breaking, “when will she wake up?”

 

            Kara hesitated slightly, an uncertain look on her face. Since that morning, the doctors had gradually been reducing the drugs in Lena’s system, reversing the effects of the coma with the hopes that she’d wake up soon, but it had been made very clear that there was the risk that she might not wake up, given the risk of comas. She didn’t want to tell Daisy that though, so she just gave her hand a small squeeze and smiled slightly. “I don’t know, baby. It could be in a minute, it could be tomorrow,” Kara told her, her mouth feeling dry as she struggled to get the words out.

 

            “Can I talk to her?” Daisy asked, looking up at Kara with a longing look on her face. “Will she be able to hear me?”

 

            “Maybe,” Kara slowly said, “do you want me to wait outside?”

 

            Shaking her head, Daisy swallowed thickly, her eyes trained on Lena’s face. Giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, Kara moved to the far side of the room, sitting down on a chair in the corner, trying to give her some privacy, even though Daisy hadn’t wanted her to leave. Amidst the sounds of the beeping heart monitor, and Lena’s mercifully steady, deep breathing, Kara could hear her daughter’s quiet words, and she bit her lip as she held her head in her hands, her eyes burning as she fought the urge to cry.

 

            “Hi, mom. Sorry it’s taken so long for me to come and see you. I-I’ve been on the children’s ward,” Daisy hesitantly told her, “mom said I couldn’t see you because- because you weren’t well, but you should be waking up soon. I don’t know if you can hear me but … I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, mom, and I know it’s all my fault, and I said horrible things but I- it wasn’t true. None of it was.” She let out a shuddering breath, her head bowed as she reached out with her unbroken arm to cover Lena’s cold hand with her own. “I love you, mom. I never wanted this to happen and … you’re the best mom I could’ve asked for, and I’m sorry I- please wake up. I need to tell you- I have to make sure you know- please, mom.”

 

            Kara sharply exhaled, blinking back tears as she covered her mouth with her hand, trying not to make a sound as she listened to her daughter plead with her unconscious wife. It hurt more than she thought it would, and Kara was silently praying for Lena to wake up so she didn’t have to sit here listening to her daughter beg her to wake up.

 

            “Mommy, please,” Daisy sobbed, “I’ll be good. I just- I need to know that you’re okay, that I didn’t- just … wake up. Wake up soon. Please. I love you. Her voice cracking as she finished her sentence, Daisy let out a breathless sob, turning her head to the side as she tried to crane her neck around to look at Kara. “Mom.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara walked over to her, turning her wheelchair around as she crouched before her. “I’m here,” Kara assured her, cupping a colourless cheek and staring into tired, bruised eyes. Giving her a small smile, she brushed away a few tears tracing down Daisy’s cheeks, before standing and kissing her on the cheek. “She’ll wake up soon.”

 

            Wrapping her arms around her daughter, cradling her head against her chest, Kara murmured soothing things to her until she stopped crying. Then it was Lily’s turn to visit, and she perched on the edge of the bed, looking so young and hopeful as she tearfully told Lena about her day, how Eliza taught her how to make banana bread, and Lillian helped her with her science project. Once Kara had spent some time fussing over her, making sure she was handling the situation okay, it was time for visiting hours to end, which meant that both girls had to leave. Kara usually spend the time between visiting hours sleeping in a chair in the waiting room, or wandering the halls, but today, she’d been allowed to sit by Lena’s bedside, waiting for her to wake up. So far, nothing had changed, except the removal of the ventilator and the tube down her throat, but Kara would wait all night, on the off chance that Lena did wake up.

 

            Alex and Maggie showed up briefly after work, and they took both girls home with them, and Kara couldn’t help but feel guilty that she couldn’t go home with them. She wanted to lay beside Daisy and hold her close like she did when she was little and used to have nightmares, and take away her pain from her broken bones, but she had to be here when Lena woke up, and Daisy knew that. Still, Kara blinked back tears as she hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, brushing her dark hair back as she smiled and told Daisy to call her if she needed her to come home. Hugging Lily, she gave her a slight warning about being nice to her sister, and sent them on their way, soaring a few curt words for her sister and sister-in-law. Now she was alone, sitting cross legged on the edge of Lena’s bed, a book open in her hands as she read one of Lena’s favourite poems from a book so worn that the spine was falling to pieces. It was one of the ones that Lena liked to read to Kara from, and now she was returning the favour, a blanket draped around her hunched shoulders as she pored over the yellowed pages, reading in the halo of light cast by the lamp on the end table beside the bed. Reaching the end of the poem, Kara sighed, snapping the book shut and looking at Lena. The swelling had gone down, and the bruises were fading from black to a still nasty looking purple, and her cuts had scabbed over, and for the first time in months, she looked peaceful.

 

            “So, uh, I brought something for you,” Kara said, pulling a crumpled envelope out of the pocket of her cardigan, pulling a letter out and smoothing out the paper as she cleared her throat, “I know I usually just give you the letters so you can read them yourself, but for obvious reasons, I’m going to read it to you this time. To my darling Lena…”

 

 

            It’s been four days - the scariest four days of my life. I know that seems like a lie, given what I’ve been through, but that pales in comparison to this. When I was over there, you kept me going, and the thought of coming home to you was everything to me. I knew you were safe then, but now, I’m terrified. I’m scared you’re not going to wake up, and I don’t know how to prepare myself for that. To never look into your eyes again, or never hear you say my name or laugh, is unbearable to me.

 

            You’re the love of my life, Lena. I know things have been bad lately, and you have no idea how much I regret everything that happened between us, but I have never loved you any less because of it. In fact, I think I loved you more, because the way I treated you would’ve been enough to push most people away, but you stayed anyway. I’m sorry. I’m not sure how I’ll ever be able to make it up to you, and I regret the fact that it took you almost dying for me to get it together and get over myself. I haven’t been good for a long time, and I know you just wanted to help me, so I’m going to be selfish and pray for you to wake up soon and help me, because I can’t do this without you. I miss you and you’re right in front of me, and that’s the worst kind of way to miss you. All those business trips you’d take, I would miss you like crazy, but you always came home, and you were always fine. You were always my Lena. Now, you look so fragile and small, and I know it’s you, but I can’t hold you because I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.

 

            I know you’ll be okay though. You’re stubborn and if I know you half as well as I think I do, you’ll wake up just to make some snarky comment so you can win our argument. I’ll take anything you throw at me, gladly, just as long as you wake up. I didn’t think anything could hurt me as much as losing all of my soldiers did, but I was wrong, because this hurts more and you’re still here. I know you’re going to be fine; you’re breathing on your own now, and they’ve been slowly reducing your drugs all day, so you should be waking up soon. Any moment, hopefully. Most likely not though, because you’ve always had a flair for the dramatics. Even your mom is getting frustrated now; she said she’s getting too old, and you’d better wake up in time for her funeral, or she’s coming back to haunt you. If I’m being honest, I’d get your ass up right now, because I’d hate to be haunted by your mom, no matter how much I like her now. Never mind her though; you’d better wake up before I go out of my mind and do something ridiculous to snap you out of it so you have to stop me.

 

            I’m only joking, but I do need you to wake up soon. I’m not sure how long I can do this, but I know I’ll do it every day until you do wake up, because I have faith that you will. This isn’t the end of us, because it hasn’t been enough - it’ll never be enough - but I know you just need some time. Take as long as you need to get better, because I’ll be here when you wake up, and so will the girls. I love you with my whole heart, and I’ll make sure I do better from now on. I’m sorry and I love you, I really do. Please come back to me. I’ll wait forever for you, Lena.

 

            Forever yours,

            Kara xxx

 

 

            She was crying by the end of it, and her tears splashed down onto the paper, making the ink run, and Kara sniffed as she wiped at her wet cheeks. Letting out a tearful laugh, she folded up the paper and put it back in the envelope, before gazing lovingly at Lena, her lips pressed together in a grim smile. “Well if that won’t wake you up, I don’t know what will,” Kara sighed, “and of course I’m crying again. I feel like I’ve been doing nothing else for days; I’m surprised I have any tears left.”

 

            Lena breathed in and then evenly exhaled, her heart beating steadily while Kara watched her. There was something soothing about sitting in silence, watching her wife and listening to the reassuring sounds that she was alive, but after almost five days, Kara was at the breaking point. Lena was too far out of reach for her to be with her, and Kara could feel the ache in her chest, almost as if it was a real pain. Her eyes raw and bloodshot from crying, Kara blinked back fresh tears and scrambled up the bed, slowly placing a delicate kiss onto Lena’s bruised cheek, before she curled up next to her on the thin bed, careful not to jostle any of her casts or touch her anywhere where it would cause Lena pain - not that she could feel it anyway. Nestling her head down into a pillow, Kara closed her eyes, feeling a line of warmth down the right side of her body as she pressed up against Lena, her hand reaching out so that she could brush her fingers against Lena’s motionless ones. “Nothing can keep us apart,” Kara whispered, “it’s up to you now.”

 

---

 

            It was hours later, in the early hours of the morning, when everything was still and silent, and time slipped past like a dream, measured in breaths and beeps of the heart monitor. Kara’s breathing was synchronised to Lena’s, and she laid with her eyes closed, listening to the rhythm of the heart monitor like a song she never wanted to end. She’d been in a daze for hours, not quite letting herself fall asleep, but not fully conscious either, letting herself get lost in her thoughts as she waited for a change. It was a slow thing, like waking up from a dream, and Kara thought the worst at first, as Lena sharply inhaled, ruining the gentle rhythm of breathing that Kara had been following, and she thought that Lena's lung had collapsed, but then the beeping increased as Lena’s heart sped up. And then there was the slight twitch of her fingers, still touching Kara’s hand, and Kara stared down at her wife in wonder, the air rushing out of her lungs as eyelashes fluttered against cheeks and eyelids opened to reveal familiar green eyes, and a voice croaked a word, barely a sigh, but it sounded like music to Kara’s ears as she let out a quiet sob.

 

            “Daisy?”

Chapter Text

            “Lena,” Kara breathlessly sobbed, her fingers shaking as she reached out to trail her fingertips along Lena’s prominent cheekbone, before she buried her face in Lena’s shoulder, listening to the shuddering breath that her wife drew in.

 

            “Kara,” Lena hoarsely replied, coughing slightly as she tried to clear her throat. Sitting back up, Kara fixed her glasses as she wiped at her eyes, sobbing as she looked down at Lena, who was frowning slightly, her eyes drifting open and closed as she tried to fight of the drugs. “Kara … the girls- Daisy.”

 

            Choking on a sob of relief, Kara gave her a shaky smile, “she’s okay. You’re both okay. Hang on a second, let me get a doctor.”

 

            Jumping off the bed, Kara raced over to the door, sliding it open and calling out to the nurses station just outside, getting the attention of a doctor talking to one of the nurses. The doctor gave the order for them to page Lena’s doctor, and quickly rushed over to Kara, following her inside. Lena’s head lolled to the side as she turned to look at her wife, a nagging feeling that she was missing something. She felt like she’d been asleep for a year, and her arms and legs were too heavy for her to lift, and her throat felt so dry and scratchy. Things were coming back to her in bits and pieces, but the overwhelming thought was of her daughter, who she’d last seen unconscious and upside down, strapped into her seat with blood running down her face. Swallowing her questions, she laid still in bed while the doctor checked her vitals, and by the time she was finished, another doctor was there, giving her a kind smile as she explained everything that happened. Lena felt hollow at the mention of a coma, and she immediately turned to Kara, taking in the dark circles and haunted look in her eyes, looking no different than before. It couldn’t have been that long, surely.

 

            “How long?” Lena croaked, a tight feeling in her chest.

 

            “Five days,” Kara said, her voice breaking as she gave Lena a tense smile.

 

            “Fuck,” Lena exclaimed, eliciting a surprised laugh from Kara and Doctor Clarke, “I missed your birthday.”

 

            Kara clapped a hand over her mouth as she laughed, her eyes crinkling at the corners behind her lenses, and her breathing hitching as she shook her head. “I love you.”

 

            Closing her eyes, Lena laughed, “yeah?”

 

            “Yeah,” Kara shakily told her, her hands skimming over Lena’s cast on her arm, and her scabbed cheekbones and unwashed hair, “so much. I thought- god, Lena, I’ve never been so scared.” And then Kara was shaking with sobs as she buried her face in Lena’s chest, her hands balled up in the thin fabric of the hospital gown, and Lena was struggling to sit up and make her arms cooperate so that she could wrap her wife in a hug. It had been fine for her, she couldn’t remember a thing, but she knew it would’ve been days of stress and worry for Kara, who was already dealing with a lot anyway.

 

            “Lena, I’m going to need to you keep still, please,” Doctor Clarke told her, “you might not be able to feel it with all the medication, but you’re very injured and you need to make sure you don’t further hurt yourself.”

 

            Letting out a frustrated sigh, Lena stopped straining herself as she tried to sit up, and she settled for twitching her fingers, rubbing tiny circles onto Kara’s waist, on the tiny patch of exposed skin between her shirt and jeans. Her own eyes were prickling with tears, and she couldn’t focus on anything except the warmth of her wife curled up on her chest, the sounds of the doctor’s words falling on deaf ears as she listened to Kara’s quiet sobs. They weren’t even afforded any privacy, because there were nurses coming in to check her blood pressure, and doctors ordering tests and interns asking her questions. Kara ended up sitting in a vinyl chair, her phone pressed to her ear as she spoke to their family, Lena assumed, her worried blue eyes never straying from Lena’s face for even a moment. It was too far though, and too crowded, and Lena felt suffocated and invaded as her bandages were changed and she was poked and prodded for what felt like hours, just wanting to kiss her wife the whole time.

 

            The sky was lightening through a gap in the blinds when they were finally left alone, and Kara was on her feet in a moment, thanking Doctor Clarke as she walked over to the bed, standing beside Lena and staring into her green eyes. Turning her arm, Lena let her fingers uncurl, holding her hand open for Kara, who immediately let her warm fingers slide across the skin, marvelling at the feeling of her very much alive and conscious wife responding beneath her touch.

 

            “When was the last time you slept?” Lena sighed, her cracked lips pulling at the scabs as she grimaced.

 

            “Never mind about me,” Kara murmured, “you- you almost died.”

 

            Lena let out a bark of laughter, wincing as pain lanced through her ribs, “you did die.”

 

            “This isn’t about me,” Kara choked out, “but god, if I didn’t deserve this after- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. How did it get so bad that it took you being in a coma to knock some sense into me? We used to be so good-“

 

            “We still are,” Lena rasped, “people fight, and they argue, and you- well, it doesn’t matter, I love you anyway.”

 

            “We fought for a week, Lena,” Kara whispered, her voice trembling slightly, “a whole week of me blaming you for what I did. That’s never been us - that’s never been me - but god, I was so scared. I thought she’d hate me forever, and I …”

 

            Lips quirking up into a small smile, Lena laughed slightly, her eyelids fluttering closed as she squeezed Kara’s hand as much as she could. “It’s okay, I forgive you.”

 

            Shaking her head, Kara choked on a laugh, “no. No, it’s not that easy. You don’t- you shouldn’t just forgive me because you were in a coma. Just because I-I’ve been scared for a few days … it doesn’t make it okay.”

 

            “No, it doesn’t,” Lena softly laughed, “and I’m pissed, actually, and upset. But I know that I love you, and I forgive you anyway, even if I am mad at you.”

 

            “I’ll make it right,” Kara earnestly told her, cupping Lena’s cheek with a trembling hand, “I will. I promise. I’ll do whatever you want - whatever it takes - because … I can’t do this without you. I’ve never been able to, and you’ve always been there to help me through it. I need you, Lena, and I can’t- god, the thought of losing you- I never want to feel that way again.”

 

            “We have time,” Lena murmured, “of course I was going to wake up; I still have to kick our daughter’s ass for being an idiot.”

 

            Laughing, Kara perched on the edge of the bed, leaning over to press a gentle kiss to an uninjured part of Lena’s forehead. “She’s been having a rough time of it. I don’t know what happened - she wouldn’t say - but whatever it was, it’s been eating her up in side. Lena … I don’t- I don’t think she’s okay.”

 

            “Yeah,” Lena sighed, “don’t worry, we’re going to have a nice long chat about it. You and me too. I have some things to say to you, and I don’t care if you don’t like them.”

 

            “Okay,” Kara meekly replied, “but first, you need to rest. You took a nasty hit, so you need to get better soon. I don’t want to lose you.”

 

            “Now wouldn’t that be an awful thing to have to suffer through,” Lena dryly replied, her lips quirking up into a quick smile, “I should’ve stayed under for two weeks as payback. Maybe even died on the table for a moment. I didn’t do that, did I? Knowing my dramatic ass, I might’ve.”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her an exasperated look, biting back a smile, “no, you didn’t, and I think I can almost understand what you went through now. I’m sorry. Your dramatic ass made me suffer enough for five days though; I’m not sure I could’ve lasted another minute, let alone nine days.”

 

            “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting,” Lena apologised, her eyelids fluttering, “now, I think you owe me one more thing too.”

 

            “Anything. What do you need? Some proper food? Books? I already have some that I was reading to you from. I’ll bring you some pyjamas when I-“

 

            “A kiss,” Lena interrupted her, her drowsy voice barely a sigh as she struggled to keep her eyes open, “I just want you to kiss me.”

 

            Letting out a breathless laugh, Kara nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat as she smiled. Green eyes opening just the tiniest bit, Lena watched as Kara moved closer, and her heart rate sped up, beeping faster on the monitor, much to Kara’s amusement, and then warm lips were softly brushing against hers, barely a kiss but enough to satisfy Lena’s desire to kiss her wife. She wanted more, but her lips were cut and she knew she wasn’t exactly in a position to kiss Kara like she wanted to. It was enough though, and as Kara pulled back, Lena burst into tears as the ache that had been there for weeks faded, dulled by the overwhelming feeling of love and relief. Her daughter was safe, and Kara was here. It had been a while since Lena had felt close to her, and she hated that it took a car crash for them to get over their stubbornness, but they were going to fix things. They were all going to be okay.

 

            Kara sat beside her, soothingly rubbing Lena’s arm as she murmured quiet reassurances to her, knowing how confusing it was to go through something awful and wake up in a hospital bed. It was overwhelming, and Kara knew she would need some time for her mind to catch up and her body to heal. She would have to be patient with her, but she didn’t care; however long it took, she would be right there to look after her. Eventually, she calmed down, her breathing hitching every so often, and a nurse came to administer her medication and check up on her, and by the time he left, Lena was struggling to stay awake, her hand in Kara’s and her eyes fluttering open and closed as she stared up into those blue eyes she loved so much.

 

            “It’s okay,” Kara quietly told her, giving her a loving smile, despite the worry and tired look in her eyes, “rest. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

 

---

 

            She wandered in and out of consciousness all morning, and by lunchtime, she was awake again, and a lot more irritable as her pain medication started wearing off. Her muscles aches and a dull pain spread throughout her from her multiple broken bones. She was too stubborn to admit that it hurt though, so she grit her teeth and got on with it, listening as Kara read her poems from one of the books she’d brought, finding the sound of her wife’s voice soothing, and was fed jelly that Kara had somehow snagged from a nurse, both of them laughing as Kara gingerly spooned it into her mouth like she was a child. It felt so long since they’d done anything stupidly fun together, and Lena could see the spark of regret in Kara’s eyes while she smiled and fed her jelly, and hear it in her voice as she read, when it wavered every so often. She could feel it in the kisses too - the need to be close, and the urgency behind it - and it was frustrating to not be able to kiss her wife properly, because Lena yearned to be close to her. She craved the comfort of Kara’s touch, now more than ever. More than anything though, she wanted to see her family. Kara had called to tell everyone that Lena was awake, but at her request, they hadn’t come rushing to the hospital to see her. They’d given them the morning alone together, for Lena to collect her thoughts and come to terms with what had happened, and by the time afternoon visiting hours rolled around, she was getting antsy.

 

            Setting an empty cup of crushed ice onto the table, Kara glanced down at her phone, before she smiled up at Lena. “They’re here. Alex said they’re going to wait while we have a moment with the girls, so I’m going to go and get them,” she told Lena, slipping off the bed and giving her a quick kiss, “I’ll be back in a second.”

 

            Smiling slightly, Lena nodded, watching her wife leave and taking a deep breath. She could feel the knot of anxiety in her stomach, and the fluttering fear at seeing her girls again. Kara had said that Daisy was fine, but Lena needed to see her with her own eyes to be sure. Then there was the brief thought that had crossed her mind after the truck had hit her, how she might never see Kara and Lily again - how the four of them might never be a family again - and she had to see Lily too, to make sure she got to see her again and tell her how much she loved her. It was only a few minutes later when a lanky dark haired figure ran to the door, yanking it open and rushing over to the bed, and Lena stifled a groan and let out a quiet laugh as her daughter wrapped her in a hug. “Lily,” Lena sighed, feeling slightly peeved that she couldn’t lift her leaden arms to hug her back.

 

            “Mom!” her daughter exclaimed, pulling back and smiling down at her, “you’re awake! I’ve been so scared, mom.”

 

            “I’m sorry for scaring you, but I’m okay now,” Lena murmured, “now come here and give me another hug and a kiss. I’ve missed you so much.”

 

            Laughing, Lily wrapped her arms around Lena again, planting a kiss on her cheek and burying her head in her shoulder. Closing her eyes, Lena slowly breathed in the smell of her daughter’s perfume, feeling comforted by the familiar warmth of her hugs, and she felt herself relax a little. “When are you coming home?” Lily asked, pulling back again and perching on the edge of the bed. “I mean, I like staying with both grandmas, but I miss you. No one baby’s me like you do. And no one plays chess as well as you.”

 

            Sighing, Lena gave her a tender smile, holding her hand open for her daughter to place her own in it. “My baby girl. I don’t know when I’m coming home, but it’ll be soon. We can play chess here though, when you come and visit. I’ll still kick your ass at it, even if you’ll have to move the pieces for me.”

 

            “Okay!” Lily beamed at her, before she fished something out of the little backpack she was wearing, “I snuck you some food too. It’s awful here, and grandma Eliza taught me how to make banana bread, so I brought you some. I thought it might cheer you up a bit.”

 

            “Thank you,” Lena softly exclaimed, “I can’t wait to eat it. Can you break me off a piece, love?” Opening the container, Lily broke the corner off a thick slice and popped it into Lena’s mouth, giving her a hopeful look as she watched her mom chew. Swallowing thickly with her sore throat, Lena smiled as widely as she could, “it’s amazing. You’ll have to show me how to make it when I get out of here. Now, how’s school? Have you been going to soccer practice?”

 

            “Mom! Of course I haven’t!” Lily spluttered, “I also got exempt from all of my upcoming assignments and tests, so thanks. When do I have to go back to school?”

 

            Lena choked on her laugh, struggling to give Lily a nudge with her cast, “tomorrow! I won’t have you slacking off on my account.”

 

            Pouting, Lily gave her a forlorn look, “but it’s Friday tomorrow.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena bit back a smile. “Okay, fine. You can have tomorrow off on one condition. Tomorrow, you’re going to make as many sandwiches as you can, and raid the cupboards for all of the snacks, and we’re going to have a picnic in here. Just me, you, mom and Daisy. And you’re going to tell me everything I missed, yeah?”

 

            “It’s a deal,” Lily laughed, reaching out to give Lena’s hand a quick squeeze, “any sandwich preferences?”

 

            “Ham and cheese,” Lena said, squeezing her hand back. Then something caught her attention over near the door, and Lena let her head loll to the side, quietly drawing in a sharp breath as she looked into the bruised blue eyes of her eldest daughter, who looked pale and frail, and a little bit too thin, as she sat in her wheelchair. Turning back to look at Lily, who was scowling at her sister, Lena squeezed her hand again. “How about you and mom go and get some snacks from the vending machine? Between you and me, the jelly is pretty shit, and I’m going to need something else after I finish the banana bread off.”

 

            Nodding, Lily slipped off the bed and walked over to Kara, who sighed as her daughter most likely purposely bumped into Daisy’s wheelchair, jolting its occupant, who didn’t say a word. Giving her daughter’s shoulder a slight push, Kara sent Lily outside, and then wheeled Daisy over to Lena’s bedside, kissing her on the top of her head and giving Lena a small smile. “We’ll be back in a few minutes.”

 

            Lena’s eyes crinkled slightly at the corners, and she winced as her bruises ached, but still, she smiled at Kara anyway, letting her know that they’d be fine here. She waited until the glass door was slid back across before she spoke, her eyes trained on her daughter’s scared face, and a wry smile on her lips, “surprised to see me?”

 

            Abruptly bursting into tears, Daisy ducked her head down as her shoulders shook, and Lena sighed, wishing she could sit up and climb out of bed to hug her. “I’m sorry, mom, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean- I-I didn’t, I swear, I didn’t mean it,” Daisy sobbed, her voice breaking and her breathing hitching as she cried, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault, and- and I never wanted you to get h-hurt. I’ve been so scared, mom. I thought you were going t-to die, and the last thing I would’ve said was- can you forgive me?”

 

            “Hey, come on, it’s okay. You’re supposed to be the one like me - we don’t cry that often. We got the stubborn Luthor traits, what happened, Dais? You’re not turning on me now, are you?” Lena thickly told her, trying to swallow the lump in her throat. Her weak attempts at joking weren’t helping break the tension and guilt that her daughter carried inside, so Lena changed tactics. “We’re alright, love. No one’s dead, and it’s just a couple of broken bones. I’ll be on my feet in no time.”

 

            “But you could’ve and it would’ve been m-my fault,” Daisy stammered, her breathing speeding up as her shoulders heaved.

 

            Sighing, Lena fumbled for the button to raise the top half of the bed, hoping that it would help her feel like she could be a bit closer to her daughter if she could see her better. “And who told you that ridiculous thing?”

 

            “Lily,” Daisy sobbed.

 

  Letting out a snort of laughter, Lena shook her head. “Listen, your sister is mad. Your mom’s mad too, and I’m probably madder than anyone. But we’re not mad at you, sweetheart - okay, I might be, but we’ll talk about that later - we’re all just worried. I didn’t know if I was going to wake up to find that you were worse off than me, and mom … mom has a lot on her plate, and she’s worried about all of us. And Lily … she’s worried because she almost lost her mom and her sister, and she loves us both so much. It’s easier to get mad when you love someone, because then you think it’ll hurt less when something bad happens because you were mad at them, instead of happily loving them. She’ll get over it.”

 

            “You think so?” Daisy murmured.

 

            “Hey, look at me. Look at me, Dais,” Lena gently coaxed her, her eyes prickling with tears when sad blue eyes met hers. Giving her an uneven smile, Lena shifted her arm to the end of the bed uncurling her fingers and watching as Daisy tentatively reached out with her own broken arm, wincing as she leant forward to reach Lena’s hand. “I love you. I love you so much. You’re my little girl, and it doesn’t matter if we fight, because nothing is going to stop me from loving you, okay? Your grandma and I … we had a very long rough patch, from even younger than you are now, up until I met your mom, and we both said things we didn’t mean. We’re okay now though, because we love each other. It’s the same with you and me, Dais.”

 

            “Yeah?” her daughter asked, her voice small and a fragile look on her face.

 

            Lena gave her hand a quick squeeze as she smiled, “oh yeah. But first, you and I are going to have a long conversation, and you’re going to tell me what the hell you were thinking. Really, Daisy? After what happened at school, you were still buying cigarettes. What did I tell you about that? And sneaking out of your mom’s birthday party? Come on, love, what’s gotten into you? You’re lucky I’ve been in a coma for five days, because now I can’t even be as pissed as I was, but just you wait until I’m out of here. I meant what I said, and you’re grounded, with no car, and no going out with your friends. Okay?”

 

            “Yeah,” Daisy muttered, a look of shame on her face. She hesitated for a moment, before looking back up at Lena, “mom? I love you.”

 

            Lena sighed slightly, relaxing back into the pillows as she closed her eyes. “I love you too. Just … don’t even put me through that again. Please.”

 

            “Mom?” Daisy said again, her voice breaking on the word, and Lena’s eyes fluttered open as she made a sound of acknowledgement. “I need to tell you and mom something.”

 

            “Tell us what?” Kara quietly asked as she stepped into the room, a tray of coffee in hand and a few bags of snacks under her arm.

 

            Daisy craned her neck around, and Lena gave her hand a gently squeeze, “it’s okay. It doesn’t have to be right now, if you don’t want to. We can wait until we’re all better.”

 

            Turning to look at Lena, Daisy gave her a grateful look, and Kara came over to give her shoulder a gentle squeeze. Lily rounded the bed and came to sit down beside Lena, her legs stretched out before her and her head leaning on Lena’s shoulder, and Lena closed her eyes as she mattress shifted and Kara sat down. Smiling to herself, she basked in the feeling of being surrounded by her family, and let out a content sigh. Things had fallen apart, and they hadn’t even begun to fix it all, but they were all here, and they all loved each other completely, despite the mess. That was enough for right now. “My girls,” Lena happily sighed, “I love you all.”

 

            “Oh yeah? And what about us?” Maggie’s snarky voice came from the doorway, and Lena let out a loud groan.

 

            “Someone please ask a doctor to put me back under,” Lena said, and Maggie let out a quick laugh.

 

            “Nice to see you too, asshole,” she snorted, and Lena gave her a lopsided smile as she watched her sister walk in and make herself at home in a chair.

 

            Alex shook her head as she walked in, walking over to the bed and giving Lena’s shoulder a quick squeeze, “what she means is it’s really good to see you. You had us all worried there - including Maggie.”

 

            Maggie laughed, holding her hands up for Kara to throw her a packet of chips, “not me. I’m used to her dramatic antics. Remember when she punched a hole in the wall because you two were fighting? I mean, this was a little too far, even for you, Lena, but I guess you had to one up yourself somehow after being stabbed.”

 

            Lena turned to Carter, who walked over to the bed and gave her a warm smile, “good thing you have two mom’s, kid, because your mom’s an ass.”

 

            Giving her a careful hug, Carter sighed, “yeah, but she says the same about you, Aunt Lena. It’s good to see you awake.”

 

            Laughing, Lena gave her niece a quick wink, and gave her daughter’s hand a quick squeeze when she realised that Daisy was silent and unresponsive to anything happening in the room. A moment later, two more people stepped into the room, and Lena took in the lines of worry etched onto her mom’s face, and the dark circles beneath her and Eliza’s eyes. “Mom,” she hoarsely greeted her, “Eliza.”

 

            Slowly walking over to the bed, Lillian carefully cupped Lena’s face in her hands, her eyes shining with a slight film of tears that took Lena by surprise. “Don’t you ever, ever do that again,” Lillian warned her, her voice dangerously low as it wavered slightly, “do you hear me, Lena? I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. I thought I- I thought I was going to lose you too.”

 

            “I’m okay, mom,” Lena told her, her chest aching at the thought of her mom having to suffer through the unknown fate of her daughter, and last living family member, after already losing her husband and son. “How’re you? Did you get your treatment the other day?”

 

            Letting out a breathless laugh, Lillian gave her a tight smile, “never you mind about me. I’m fine. The only thing I’ve had to worry about it you, and my troublemaker of a granddaughter. I thought raising you was bad enough; I didn’t realise I’d have to go through it twice.”

 

            “Don’t worry, I’ve been looking after her,” Eliza said, walking over to the bed and kissing Lena on her forehead, “you had me scared for a second though, honey. After Kara, I never- well, don’t scare us like that again, okay? I’m not sure my heart could handle it at my age. Good grief, you girls have given me enough stress for a lifetime. I think it’s time to retire.”

 

            Lillian snorted, giving her a disapproving look, “please, we all know you’ll never stop working at that hospital. They’ll have to pry the scalpel out of your hand.”

 

            Laughing, Eliza shrugged, kissing Kara on the cheek, and smoothing her granddaughter’s hair, glancing around the room to make sure everyone was okay. Lena closed her eyes as she smiled, knowing that she could always count on Eliza to take care of everyone, no matter what went wrong. This was the family she’d always dreamed of, and she couldn’t help but sniff as she blinked back tears, feeling so loved and grateful during that moment, even if she was mad at half of the people in the room right now. That was family though, and she knew there would be plenty of time to argue and talk later, once she was back in her own house.

 

            “Are you okay?” Kara quietly asked as a tear slid out of the corner of Lena’s eye, reaching out to gently brush it away.

 

  “Oh you know,” Lena said, blowing the air out of her lungs, “just trying to process … everything. I thought breaking my hand was bad enough, but god, I think I’ve broken every fucking bone in my body. I feel like I’ve been hit by a tru- oh … well I guess I was. You get my meaning though. It hurts like hell. Are you feeling this too, Dais?”

 

            “Yeah, it’s shit,” her daughter tearfully laughed, giving Lena’s hand a quick squeeze.

 

            Sighing, Kara shook her head and rolled her eyes. “You should be due for some pain meds soon,” Kara gently reassured her.

 

            Nodding, Lena clenched her jaw, her face drawn in pain at the dull ache that pervaded every inch of her body. She almost preferred being in a coma, but looking into her wife’s eyes, Lena wouldn’t have changed a thing. To look at the person she loved with her whole heart was more than Lena had ever dared to hope for in her life, but she’d been lucky enough to have that and more. Anything else was worth it, just as long as she had Kara and her girls.

 

            “We should let you rest,” Alex said, giving her a hesitant smile, an almost wary look in her eyes as if she was waiting for Lena to bite her head off about them not telling her about Daisy.

 

            “We’ll come back tomorrow,” Maggie said, climbing to her feet and crumpling the empty chip packet, a smirk on her face as she arched an eyebrow at Lena, “I’ll bring monopoly.”

 

            Lena let out a sharp laugh, wincing as it jostled they broken and bruised ribs, “bring a pack of cards too, would you. I’ll need to kick your ass at poker once you try and bankrupt me.”

 

            “Will do,” Maggie said, giving her a genuine, soft smile that said everything her and Lena rarely said to each other. They were both a little more reserved with their feelings, and preferred to joke and make sarcastic comments about each other instead, but Lena knew Maggie would’ve been as worried as any of them, and she was always grateful for the lightheartedness and nonchalance that her sister brought to tense moments.

 

            “Actually, can we have a moment before we go,” Alex awkwardly asked, a glance at Kara, before she looked back at Lena, who nodded. “We’ll meet you outside, Carter.”

 

            Lily climbed off the bed at a gentle nudge off Lena, and Eliza started to wheel Daisy away, before Alex stopped her. Everyone else, except for the four women and Daisy, left, hovering in the hallway outside. Giving her sister-in-law’s an expectant look, Lena raised her eyebrows slightly. “Well?”

 

            Pulling an envelope out of the bag she was carrying, Alex handed it to Kara, a guilty look on her face. Frowning, Lena struggled to try and sit up more, but Maggie pushed her back down, rolling her eyes at Lena’s stubbornness. “It’s a letter,” Maggie said as they all watched Kara pull it out of the envelope, “to waive the enlistment of a certain minor, who forged her parent’s signature. There’s also the objection of the other parent to the enlistment of their child, as well as the argument that she hasn’t finished high school. You have about eighty days left to oppose it so they can waive her enlistment, but you might want to be quick, because she’ll be getting called to boot camp and stuff soon.”

 

            Daisy wouldn’t meet anyone’s eyes, and Lena felt her own eyes burning as she tried not to cry, swallowing the lump in her throat as she nodded. “Thank you.”

 

            Both women nodded, giving her grim smiles, and Kara climbed off the bed to give her sister a hug, the letter held tightly in her hand. “Don’t you ever keep something about my daughter from me again,” Kara stiffly told her.

 

Returning the hug, Alex winced slightly, knowing that it was going to be a while before both of her sisters weren’t mad at her anymore. “I’m sorry. I won’t.”

 

            Rounding on her daughter, Kara shoved the letter back in the envelope and crossed her arms over her chest. “And you … you’re lucky you have a whole family of people to pull you out of this mess. Don’t you ever, ever go behind my back again. Do you hear me?”

 

            Nodding, Daisy’s cheeks turned red with embarrassment, and she silently took her mom’s angry words, looking small as she sat in the wheelchair. Once Kara had given the three of them a few more stern warnings about trust and responsibility, she turned to look at Lena, who froze slightly, her eyes widening as she waited for whatever tongue lashing she was going to get, but then Kara’s expression softened, and her bottom lip trembled slightly.

 

            “I’m sorry. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell you that it was my fault. I’m sorry, and I should’ve listened to you, and I should’ve trusted you to know when the right time to tell them was. I never should’ve blamed you, and I’m sorry,” Kara hoarsely told her.

 

            “Well come here then,” Lena shaking replied, and Kara laughed as she quickly moved up the bed and let her forehead rest against Lena’s. “Thank you.”

 

            “We’ll leave you guys to it,” Alex quietly murmured, patting her niece on the shoulder on the way out. Lena knew why her and Maggie hadn’t told them, but it was their daughter, and it should’ve been up to her and Kara to get her out of this mess. But she wouldn’t pretend that she wasn’t grateful for them to going through the effort of researching a way to get her out of this mess, as well as taking the time to write the letter for them to send.

 

            Clearing her throat slightly, “thank you. Both of you. Really.”

 

            She caught a glimpse of a smile off Alex, before she followed Maggie out of the door, and everyone else came back in. Eliza and Carter both said goodbye, but Lillian sat down in the corner of the room, while Lily came back over to the bed, making themselves comfortable. They stayed for the rest of visiting hours, and Lena felt better after the pain meds, but found it hard to keep her eyes open and follow the conversation. Eventually it was time for them to all leave, and she managed to hug and kiss them all, except Daisy, which hurt a bit, and even Kara was being kicking out this time, now that Lena wasn’t in a coma anymore. With the promise that she’d be here bright and early tomorrow, Kara leant down to kiss Lena again.

 

            “Haven’t you kissed her enough?” Lily exasperatedly asked, her arm looped through Lillian’s to help her walk.

 

            Laughing, Kara pressed another kiss to Lena’s lips. “Never enough,” she whispered to Lena, who gave her a loving smile.

 

            “I love you all,” Lena called out, earning a chorus of similar responses, and she smiled at the tiny kiss Daisy blew her as Kara wheeled her outside, before she was left alone, for the drugs to drag her into a dreamless sleep, where nothing hurt and she felt safe and loved. Despite the broken state of her body, it was the first time in a while that her heart didn’t ache, and Lena slept soundly, comforted by the knowledge that her family was okay.

Chapter Text

            She stayed in hospital for another week, finding herself in and out of a drug induced haze of lucid moments and hallucinations that seemed like a dream. Lena couldn’t remember some of it, and she was confused a lot of the time, especially when people brought up things they’d previously spoken about with her, or she repeated things they’d already talked about. Kara was there every day though, that much she could remember. She wheeled her up and down the hallway with a nurse, she brought books and read them aloud, and brought all of Lena’s favourite foods, feeding them to her while she filled her in on what she’d missed. Her whole family took turns coming, along with Sam and Gayle and Lena even recalled Jess showing up at one point, never giving her a moment alone. In some ways, it was a relief to always have Kara there, because she’d missed her so much, but with the pain medication and the broken bones, Lena was irritable and had little patience for people chatting nonstop.

 

            After dozens of tests and a bill of clean health, she was finally released, and she felt relieved to be going home. It felt like a long time since she’d been home, and she stared up at the big house while Kara got her wheelchair out, noticing the temporary ramp that had been constructed for hers and Daisy’s use. Turning to look at Kara, Lena gave her a warm smile, holding her heavy arms up for Kara to unbuckle her seatbelt and lift her out of the car. It took some struggling, but Kara had been doing the same with Daisy, who was half a foot taller, so they managed to get Lena into the wheelchair without too much trouble, and then she was being wheeled up the ramp, an apprehensive look on her face as if she thought she was going to start rolling backwards. Kara pushed her all the way up though, stepping around her to open the door, and wheeled her over the threshold.

 

            “Girls, Lillian, guess who’s home,” Kara called out, dumping the duffel bag filled with Lena’s stuff onto the floor, before she took off her shoes and coat.

 

            The sound of footsteps running reached their ears and Lena smiled as Lily came racing out of the living room, looking unkempt in her wrinkled school uniform, but bright eyed and happier than she’d looked in a while as she took in the sight of Lena. “Mom!” she exclaimed, running over to bend down and hug Lena, who awkwardly raised her lumpy casts to hug her back, “you didn’t tell us you were coming home today.”

 

            “I didn’t know until this morning,” Lena said, giving her a loving smile as she beckoned her close, pressing a kiss to her daughter’s cheek. “Good day at school?”

 

            “Yeah, I got ninety-eight on my math test,” Lily proudly told her.

 

            Giving her a proud look, Lena’s eyebrows rose slightly, “ninety-eight? Well you know what that means …”

 

            “Ice-cream and a present?” Lily said, an expectant look on her face. Lena nodded, laughing at the excited look on her face, feeling a rush of love for her daughter and the simple act of making her happy. She tried not to take anything for granted, but lately she hadn’t taken much time to appreciate the small things either, and it felt good to make her daughter feel proud of herself.

 

            “Well done, I’m so proud of you,” Kara said, kissing her on the cheek, “we might have to have our ice-cream some other time though. I don’t think your mom will be able to come just yet.”

 

            Smugly arching an eyebrow in a way that was so much like Lena it was almost shocking, Lily smiled, “don’t worry, I got grandma to take me to the store after school and I got all of our favourites so we can eat it right here.”

 

            Lena laughed, shaking her head at her daughter’s well thought out plan, and glanced at the top of the stairs as a flicker of movement caught her eye. Her mom was standing there, looking pale and thin, yawning as she tied a dressing gown, and Lena smiled softly, a flicker of worry welling up inside. “Hi mom, how’re you feeling?”

 

            Quickly walking downstairs, Lillian walked over and pressed a kiss to her cheek, “I’m fine, I was just taking a quick nap. Sorry, I didn’t know you were going to be home. I would’ve had food ready.”

 

            “Where were you going to order it from?” Lena snorted.

 

            “I was thinking Indian,” Lillian coolly replied and everyone let out a quick laugh.

 

            Sighing, Lena gave her a small smile, “I’ve missed being home. Where’s Daisy though?”

 

            Lillian frowned slightly, shrugging apologetically as she looked at Lena, “I left her watching TV in the small living room.”

 

            Noticing the sheepish look on Lily’s face, Lena gave her a stern look, which was no less imposing due to the fact that she was at least two feet lower than her daughter from her seat in her wheelchair. “You wouldn’t happen to know where she is, would you? It’s not like she could’ve gone far.”

 

            Shrugging with a guilty look on her face, Lily opened her mouth to reply but was cut off by a muffled shout from the living room in question. “Mom!”

 

            Sighing, Kara began pushing Lena down the hallway, opening the door to the small living room they preferred to occupy, and stopping as they took in the sight of their daughter laying on the floor, slightly propped up on her elbows, with her wheelchair just within her reach.

 

            Trying not to laugh, Lena bit her lip as she looked at her, “what the hell are you doing, Dais?”

 

            Her head whipping around in surprise, Daisy’s face lit up at the sight of Lena, but was quickly replaced with anger. “Lily’s being an asshole,” she hotly replied, her cheeks turning red.

 

            “Don’t call your sister that,” Kara sighed, brushing past Lena’s wheelchair and slipping into the room, crouching down beside Daisy and helping turn her over and sit up slightly, “what did she do?”

 

            “She moved my wheelchair across the room so I couldn’t reach it!” Daisy exclaimed, “I had to wriggle across the floor but I couldn’t get into my chair.”

 

            Lena closed her eyes, putting her head in her hand as she sighed. “Lily,” she called out, her voice holding a low warning as she rolled her eyes.

 

            “What? She deserved it,” Lily sulkily replied behind Lena, who turned to give her a sharp look. Rolling her eyes, Lily sighed, “fine. I won’t do it again.”

 

            “You’d better not,” Lena quietly told her, “you should be nice to your sister. She’s hurt, and she needs people to look after her.”

 

            Wrapping her arms around Lena’s shoulders, Lily rested her chin on her shoulder, sighing as she watched Kara settle Daisy down into her wheelchair. “She wouldn’t be hurt if she hadn’t been so moody and dramatic, and neither would you. It’s her fault.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Lena reached up and gently stroked Lily’s hair, “I know you’re mad at her, but she didn’t do it on purpose, love. Remember that time you smashed my favourite vase, and you felt really bad about it? You didn’t do it on purpose, did you?”

 

            Lillian cleared her throat from behind Lena, who craned her neck around to take in the guilty look on her mom’s face, “actually, uh, Kara and I broke your vase. We just blamed Lily because she was seven and you wouldn’t be mad at her.”

 

            “What?!” Lena spluttered, “mom! You framed my own kid? That was a seventy-thousand dollar vase, and it was a gift from a Chinese businessman!”

 

            “We know. That’s why we didn’t tell you,” Lillian exasperatedly replied, “we had to bribe her with a new pony.”

 

            Shooting her daughter a look of betrayal and shock, Lena’s mouth fell open in surprise, “that’s why your mom made us but you Marcelle? Kara!”

 

            “We’re sorry?” Kara questioningly apologised, an innocent look on her face as she gave Lena a sheepish smile, wheeling Daisy towards her.

 

            “Anything else I should know about?” Lena sarcastically asked, a wry smile on her lips as she looked at everyone in amusement. She leant forward as far as she could, her hand outstretched as she reached for Daisy, grimacing again at the fact that she still couldn’t hug her. With both of her legs in casts, as well as still healing ribs, which sent a sharp pain through her chest as she overextended herself, and a dozen other broken bones, Lena wouldn’t be able to get up and hug anyone for a few more weeks, and neither would Daisy, who was considerably better off than her mom. “Hi sweetheart,” Lena murmured, giving her a soft smile.

 

            The moment was interrupted by Lily blurting out her own confession, “remember last year when the heel snapped off your favourite pair of Gucci heels? I did it, I was trying to walk in them.”

 

            Mouth falling open in surprise, Lena turned to scold her daughter for lying, although she couldn’t help but be amused by the whole conversation, and she couldn’t hold back a laugh as Kara laughed and Lily gave her an apologetic look. They were still laughing when Daisy interrupted, and everyone fell quiet as the laughter died on their lips.

 

            “I’ve been going to therapy,” she rushed out, her shoulders hunched slightly and her head down, speaking to her hands balled up in the blanket draped over her lap. Lena quickly turned to look at her, taking in the dark hair that was the only thing she could see as Daisy kept her head ducked down.

 

            No one replied for a moment, and then Kara dragged Daisy’s wheelchair backwards, meeting Lena’s slightly wide eyed stare. “Lily, how about you and grandma go and start making sundaes for everyone?”

 

            Lillian pushed Lena further into the room and shut the door behind her, leaving Daisy alone with her mom’s, the silence hanging heavy in the air as Kara wheeled Daisy over to the sofa and then brought Lena over, before she sat herself down. The three of them were sitting in a triangle, all of them silent for a few more moments, until Kara gently cleared her throat. “Dais? What- what’s going on?”

 

            “The cigarettes,” Daisy hoarsely replied, “I’ve been selling them to pay for it.”

 

            “Cigarettes?” Kara spluttered. “I thought we told you not-“

 

            Suppressing a sigh, Lena reached over and laid a hand on top of Kara’s, giving her a pointed look, before she turned back to Daisy. “What do you mean you’ve been going to therapy?” Lena hesitantly asked.

 

            “Like what it sounds like,” Daisy muttered.

 

            “But why?” Kara asked, frowning in confusion, “I mean … your mom and I have both been in therapy, and it’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with going, but why? Why didn’t you tell us?”

 

            “You’ve both been in therapy?” Daisy asked, her head shooting up as she looked at them both with wide eyes.

 

            Opening and closing her mouth, Lena grimaced slightly, “yes, we can talk about that later, but … what’s going on, love?”

 

            “I don’t know,” Daisy quietly said, her voice small as she seemed to shrink in her wheelchair, almost like she was trying to go unnoticed. Lena frowned, realising that her daughter was always doing that - always hunching her shoulders as if she wished she was invisible, and shutting herself away from everyone. She’d thought it was the usual teenager broodiness, but with a start, Lena realised that she had been so dismissive of the clear signs, even though she’d been looking for a reason for her daughter’s misbehaviour.

 

            “How- how long have you been going?” Lena asked, swallowing the lump in her throat.

 

            Shrugging, Daisy played with the edge of the blanket in her lap, “about three months.”

 

            Exhaling sharply, Lena turned to look at Kara, who looked equally as stunned at the fact that their daughter had been sneaking around behind their backs, not to drink and get into trouble with her friends - no, she brazenly did that without a second thought for the trouble she’d get into with Lena and Kara - instead, she had been sneaking around to secretly see a therapist. It was a complete surprise to both women as they gave each other confused looks. Lena knew that Kara hadn’t known, because they would’ve told each other, no matter how bad things had gotten between them.

 

            “I didn’t mean to go, I just- I didn’t want to talk to you about it. I mean, I tried, but I couldn’t-” Daisy admitted, “but then it was- I thought there was something wrong with me. Every week when I said I was going to hang out with my friends … I don’t even have any friends. I was going to therapy instead. I thought it was me. And those girls … they were so horrible, and they said- I’m not eighteen yet, and they said you wouldn’t want me. That you’d take me back.”

 

            Choking back a sound of surprise, Lena reached out, concern in her eyes as she stared at her daughter, “Dais, we picked you. We had you picked out before you were born. You’re not anyone else’s, you’re ours. From the very beginning. You’re mine and your mom’s, and we love you more than anything. It doesn’t matter what some bitchy girls say, okay?”

 

            “Yeah, but it’s not just them. You and mom have been acting so weird for months. You’re always telling us to stay safe, as if something bad is going to happen, and I just- I thought there was something wrong with me and you weren’t telling me. You’re both so protective of us, and I didn’t know why before, but now I understand, but … I don’t- I just feel like I- like something bad is going to happen all the time. With you, or grandma, or even Lily. It made me panic and- so I tried to be more like you, because I thought that maybe the girls were right and you were both acting weird because you didn’t want me anymore. I thought if I joined the army, you’d love me more, because I was like you, mom, and that I wouldn’t feel sick or worry all the time. And the panic attacks-“

 

            “It’s okay,” Kara soothingly told her, “I know being in hospital was horrible, and they can be scary, but they’ll go away now that you’re out.”

 

            Letting out a shaky laugh, Daisy shook her head, reaching up to wipe at her eyes, “they’ve been happening for a long time, mom. Not just in hospital. You just didn’t know it.”

 

            Lena’s mouth felt dry, and she licked her lips as she tried to come up with something to say. They’d missed all the signs, and they’d had no idea that they’d been so overprotective, to the point where it was apparent that something was wrong, even when there wasn’t. All the times Daisy had shut herself in her room, she hadn’t just been being quiet, as Lena had been at her age, she had been suffering, silently holding all of her worry and fear inside, to the point where she’d been having panic attacks. Kara’s words from the hospital came back to her, about Daisy wasn’t doing okay, and Lena’s eyes stung with tears; she should’ve known sooner.

 

            “Why didn’t you tell us?” Lena softly asked, a pained look on her face.

 

            Letting out a strangled sound of surprise, Daisy looked up, her eyes bloodshot even though her cheeks were free of tears as she tried not to cry. “How could I? You’d panic even more, and I thought you’d tell me I was being stupid.”

 

            “Daisy,” Kara sighed, her voice coming out as a pained groan, and she slipped off the sofa to kneel before their daughter, “we would never think you were being stupid. We just want you to be okay. We’ve been so worried about you, and with good reason apparently. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry if your mom and I made you feel scared; I was just- I was trying to work out how to tell you what was wrong with me. I didn’t mean to make you-“

 

            “It’s okay, mom,” Daisy quietly replied, “I-I know I reacted badly, and … I know why you didn’t- it’s hard, I know that now. I just- I spent so long trying to fix myself and I-I thought that joining the army would help, but then I found out about you and … it made it all worse. I’d already enlisted, and I’m sorry for going behind your back and forging your signature, but I-I just wanted to be like you. Until you said you almost died. I thought I was going to die too. I know I blamed you for not telling me sooner … but I thought I would die, and that maybe if I’d known before, it all would’ve been different. Maybe I wouldn’t have needed to go and speak to someone or- or I would’ve known it wasn’t me, it was you. I wouldn’t have-“

 

            She cut off as she drew in a shaky breath, and Kara slowly reached out to hug her, and uncertain look on her face as if she wasn’t sure if Daisy wanted anyone to touch her right now. Lena watched as her daughter eagerly reached out for Kara, craving the comfort of her mom’s warm arms, and Lena couldn’t help but feel slightly bitter that she couldn’t do the same. Listening as Kara murmured soothing words into her daughter’s ear, gently stroking her dark silky hair, Lena swallowed thickly, the joy of being home forgotten like a stray thought. She had always tried to be the best mother she could be, and right now, she felt like she had failed.

 

            When Kara finally drew back, Lena gave Daisy a wavering smile, struggling to keep her voice even as she reached across to lay a gentle hand on Daisy’s knee. She saw the uncertain look in those blue eyes, full of hope and fear, and she could understand the longing look on Daisy’s face as she looked at her. “It’s okay, your mom and I … we can help you. We can get someone to help you, just like your mom does - the best help,” Lena shakily told her, “just … tell us what you need - what we can do - and we’ll help you.”

 

            Letting out a shuddering breath, Daisy averted her gaze, her cheeks turning slightly pink as her blue eyes sparkled with tears. “I don’t know, mom. I just- I want to be okay. I just want you to hold me and tell me it’ll be okay.”

 

            “Kara,” Lena quietly said, giving her wife a pleading look as she silently asked for her. She couldn’t hold her daughter herself, only Kara could do that for her, and she was already moving the second that Daisy finished talking, wrapping her in a loving hug. Feeling helpless, Lena was left sitting in her wheelchair, fighting the urge to try and climb to her feet, watching as Kara comforted their daughter.

 

            When Kara finally pulled back, Lena was left staring longingly at her daughter, who had her head ducked down, avoiding eye contact with both of her moms. “I, uh, I want to be alone for a while, if that’s okay,” she quietly said.

 

            Reaching out to brush her hair back, Kara pressed a kiss to the top of her head, “of course. We’ll be close by if you need us. I love you.”

 

            Lena strained herself, trying not to let a flicker of pain cross her face as her ribs ached, and gently stroked the back of Daisy’s hand. “I love you.”

 

            “Yeah, I know,” Daisy sighed, and Kara walked over to Lena, grabbing the handles of the wheelchair and pulling her around to face the door.

 

            Outside in the hallway, the paused for a moment, and then Kara started wheeling Lena through the hallways of the lower level of the house, taking them into the library and parking Lena near her favourite window seat so that she could look out over the garden. Crouching down in front of her, Kara gave Lena’s hands a gentle squeeze, her blue eyes giving her a searching look as she looked at her with concern.

 

            “Are you okay?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            “No,” Lena laughed, “no, I’m not. I feel like a failure. Our little girl, Kara. She’s our little girl and she didn’t even tell- we didn’t know. Oh but we did, we just- we didn’t ask the right questions. God, we asked her if it was dating problems.”

 

            “Okay, okay, calm down,” Kara quickly soothed her, gently rubbing Lena’s arm, “I know. I know that it feels like we messed up, and I think- I think that it’s my fault.”

 

            Lena scoffed, looking out at the plants clinging to the last remnants of life, before spring truly came and painted the gardens a riot of colours. “Don’t blame yourself.”

 

            “No, I’ve shifted the blame elsewhere for far too long. Come on, Lena, she practically said it herself. Not telling her about me … it made her panic, and worry, and feel … god, she’s been having panic attacks. I know how all of this feels, and I never wanted her to feel like that. I thought we were protecting them both from the bad things that can happen, but I pushed her right into this mess.”

 

            “All this time that she was quiet and hard and more closed off than Lily … I thought she was like me. I thought we had one like you and one like me, but no, she’s just been- god, I feel so bad,” Lena said, her eyes prickling with tears. “Do you think it’s anxiety? It sounds like anxiety.”

 

            Kara let out a small sigh, “I don’t know love. Maybe it is. It sounds different to mine, but maybe it is. We’ll just- we’ll find someone good for her, like we did for me, and- and we can … I’ll talk to her. I’ll tell her about me, and maybe it’ll help her know that she can talk. God, Lena, I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help her. Is this how you feel with me?”

 

            Letting out a strangled laugh, Lena had her a grim smile, “yes, and it hurts, but you still have to try. We’ll have to be patient with her.”

 

            Resting her forehead against Lena’s thigh, Kara exhaled sharply, her shoulders tense as Lena reached up to awkwardly rub her back. “One thing seems to get better and then something else comes along and messes everything again,” Kara said, her voice shaking slightly.

 

            “Hey, it’ll be okay. She’s been managing this by herself for so long, and we’ll get her food help and we’ll try our best to help her too,” Lena soothingly replied, trying to reassure herself as much as Kara. “And there’s a lot we all need to talk about, as a family, so maybe that’ll help clear the air a bit. I don’t know, I just- I won’t stop fighting for this family, and I’ll kick everyone’s asses back on track, even if I have to do it by myself.”

 

            “We’ll do it together,” Kara told her, “but for now, you need to rest. You’re always running around after everyone else; let me look after you for once.”

 

            Lena softly sighed, giving her a loving look as she smiled slightly, “you don’t know how much you looked after me when we first met. Do you remember how messy everything was back then? It almost feels the same now.”

 

            Lifting her head from in Lena’s lap, Kara gave her a slightly wistful look, “it was so much easier back then. We didn’t have kids, and your mom wasn’t sick, and neither was I. Growing up sucks.”

 

            “I wouldn’t change growing old with you for the world,” Lena told her, “that’s something I’ll never take for granted, because we almost lost that chance.”

 

            “I know,” Kara sighed, “I just wish it didn’t have to be so hard. I just want us all to be happy, and be okay. I want to give the girls the besf life we can, and I want that for you too.”

 

            “Well you’ve already given it to me,” Lena said, smiling slightly, “look around you, Kara. I’m in my family’s mansion, closer than ever to my mom, with two beautiful daughters and a wife that I know loves me. It’s more than I could ever have dreamed for, and I know that maybe I’ve forgotten about how good things are because we’ve been arguing so much lately, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I have. You gave me all of this.”

 

            “I love you,” Kara choked out, giving her a tender look, gently giving Lena’s hand a squeeze.

 

            Leaning forward as far as she could, Lena pursed her lips slightly, and Kara laughed as she met her halfway and gave her a soft kiss. “I haven’t forgotten about our talk though,” Lena reminded her with a quick smile.

 

            Groaning, Kara let her forehead fall against Lena’s, and she sighed as she ran a hand through Lena’s dark hair, “I know. One step at a time, love, and then you can yell as much as you want.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Lena reached up to brush her fingers along Kara’s cheek, smiling as she closed her eyes. “I still love you though.”

Chapter Text

            A few days passed, with Lena stretched out on the sofa, doing paperwork while her bruises faded and her cuts healed, and broken bones slowly knitted themselves back together. It was a slow process that was more of a nuisance than anything else, and Lena was growing impatient at the fact that she could barely move. The living room was doubling as a bedroom for Lena and Daisy, as neither of them were in a position to walk or even be carried upstairs, and the room was feeling smaller and smaller with each passing day. The worst part was that with their broken arms, they couldn’t even wheel themselves around downstairs, and Lena envied the fact that Daisy got to go to school, while she was stuck at home all day.

 

            It wasn’t all bad though, and Kara stayed home every day with her, after dropping the girls to school and Lillian to work, letting Lena beat her at poker and chess, made chicken noodle soup for her, and kept up a constant stream of chatter while she wheeled Lena between rooms and did chores. In some ways, it was exactly like it had been when Kara had come home from the hospital, except Lena had been the one fussing, and she suspected that she liked being fussed over a lot more than Kara had. It was like they’d gone back to how everything had been, long before they’d fallen into this mess. She was worried about Kara though, because she ignored any of her own problems, choosing to focus on her family instead, and Lena was worried that she’d have another relapse and slip back into the behaviours that had slowly been coming back. Not wanting to bring it up at the moment, Lena let it go, keeping a watchful eye on her wife whenever they were together.

 

            Kara seemed fine - better than fine - and Lena was surprised at the exuberant look on her face when she walked into the living room a few nights later. Everyone was watching TV together, with Lily curled up beside Lena and Lillian sitting with Daisy propped up against her. Eyebrows rising slightly at the wide smile on Kara’s face, Lena gave her a questioning look. “You look happy.”

 

            “I quit my job,” Kara brightly proclaimed.

 

            “What?!” Lena spluttered, while Lillian whipped her head around to look at Kara.

 

            “You can’t quit, I’m your boss,” Lillian stubbornly told her, giving her a stern look, “I don’t trust anyone else to run the company when I’m not there.”

 

            Laughing, Kara walked over to the sofa that Lena and Lily were currently occupying, and sat down at their feet, giving her mother-in-law an apologetic look, “sorry, Lillian, but I told you I was going to do this.”

 

            Lena frowned as she looked at Kara, “wait, what? Why? You love your job.”

 

            “Yes, I do,” Kara agreed, “but I love my family more, and there’s a lot that needs to be fixed here. I know better than to ask you to give up your work, and I’d never ask you to begin with, so for the time being, I’m staying home.”

 

            Lena sighed, gently nudging Lily to sit up, before she awkwardly tried to prop herself up more, “would anyone like some hot chocolate? Kara, how about we go and make some?”

 

            “Can you please not fight,” Daisy sighed, a look of concern on her face as she looked at them both. Lillian stroked her dark hair, placing a kiss to the top of her head, and whispered something to her, and Lena swallowed the lump in her throat as she gave her daughter a soft look. She’d been somewhat better over the past few days, as if a burden had been lifted off her shoulders, and Lena and Kara had tentatively danced around her, making sure she was okay without being too confronting about it.

 

            “We’re not going to fight,” Lena reassured her, swallowing the lump in her throat at the fact that things had gotten so off track that her daughter was worried about them even talking, even though her and Kara rarely fought. “I just think your mom and I should talk about this alone. Now, extra marshmallows on your hot chocolate?”

 

            Daisy nodded, giving her a small smile. “And whipped cream, please,” she added as an afterthought.

 

            Nodding, Lena gave her a warm smile, letting Kara help her into her wheelchair and push her out of the room. They were both silent as the wheels squeaked on the tiled floor, and Lena settled down in her chair as Kara made for the kitchen, careful not to run over Artemis as she excitedly leapt up from where she’d been chewing a toy and ran over to them. Lena let her fingers absentmindedly run through the coarse fur on the dog’s head, while Kara busied herself around the kitchen, pulling out mugs and milk, marshmallows and chocolate powder. Letting her take her time, Lena patiently waited, watching the measured movements of her wife, and the way her muscles moved beneath the fabric of her shirt. Kara had always been so in control of everything, and so had Lena, and they both prided themselves on the fact that they never did anything without a reason, which left Lena wondering why Kara wanted to stop working.

 

            With the chocolate powder stirred into the milk, which was heating up on the stove, Kara wiped her hands on the thighs of her jeans and nudged her glasses up her nose as she gave Lena a warm smile. Walking over to her, Kara crouched in front of the wheelchair, her joints quietly cracking as her blue eyes creased slightly at the corners. “I think it’s a good idea,” Kara quietly told her.

 

            “But why?” Lena asked, her forehead furrowing in confusion, “you don’t have to pick. You already cut down your days, and I cut down mine, and once we all get to finally talk things through, we’ll all be fine. We just need to get back on the same page again.”

 

            “I’ve been selfish, Lena,” Kara sighed, looking down at her hand, gently resting on Lena’s knee, her long fingers splayed on the pyjama pants. “I know I have, and I knew it at the time, but I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong. I thought- well, I thought that everything would go away and it would sort itself out. There was a lot going on, and I knew that if I tried to confront it all, I would … I don’t know, break down? I don’t think I could’ve coped with it all, and I know you tried to help … let me help this time.”

 

            “Don’t do it for me,” Lena quietly groaned, tutting as she brushed a lock of hair out of Kara’s face, “I’m fine. I’ll be on my feet in no time, and back in work too.”

 

            Kara gave her a small smile, entry squeezing her knee, “exactly. You’ll be back at work, and then we have another company for you to worry about as well. Then there’s your mom, and this thing with Daisy, and me too. There’s making lunches for everyone and making sure the girls have their uniforms ironed and have someone to pick them up from school. You can’t do it all. I mean, you can, and you have, but I don’t want you to.”

 

            Softly sighing, Lena gave her a tender look, feeling a rush of affection for Kara. “I was never doing it alone. There was just some things that you couldn’t help with, and that’s okay.”

 

            “Why does it matter if I don’t work?” Kara exasperatedly asked, “a month ago, you would’ve been happy for me to stay at home.”

 

            “A month ago, you were … bad,” Lena said, “two weeks ago, you weren’t too good either. I just think that maybe you shouldn’t be so hasty. Just take some leave, like you are now. You think my mom will say no if you ask for a month off?”

 

            “I just want to fix things,” Kara said, a desperate look in her eyes.

 

            Fumbling with her heavy cast covered arm, Lena cupped Kara’s face in her hands, giving her a stern look. “Okay, what is it?”

 

            “Nothing, I-“

 

            “Cut the shit, Kara,” Lena laughed, leaning forward to give her a chaste kiss, “I’ve been married to you for almost half of my life, and you’re like an open book. You can’t lie to me.”

 

            Lips quirking to into a small smile, Kara raised her eyebrows slightly, “if I’m an open book, why don’t you tell me?”

 

            “You feel guilty,” Lena immediately replied, gently running the pad of her thumb across Kara’s cheekbone, “you blame yourself for everything, and you think that if you give up what you want to help make things easier for me, that it’ll make you feel less guilty about everything that happened.”

 

            A flicker of pain ran across Kara’s face, and Lena could see the hurt in her eyes, and hear it in the soft sigh that fell from Kara’s lips. It was a few moments before Kara replied, her throat bobbing up and down as she swallowed thickly. “Is that a bad thing?”

 

            “Do what makes you happy, Kara,” Lena quietly told her, “that’s all I’ve ever wanted for you. If you want a break from the lab, then take one, and go back when you’re ready. If you want to work there twelve hours a day, then I’ll be here waiting for you, with packed lunches and ironed uniforms.”

 

            “Okay,” Kara sighed, straightening up and giving Lena a lingering kiss on her forehead, before she walked back over to the stove, where the simmering hot chocolate was letting off a rich, sweet smell. With her back to Lena, Kara tensed her shoulders and stood there in silence for a few moments. “There’s something else too.”

 

            Lena watched as Kara carefully filled up the cups all lined up, before she dug in her back pocket and pulled out a white envelope, slightly bent and crumpled from being shoved in her pocket. Her curiosity was piqued, and Lena looked at Kara expectantly, watching as she fiddled with envelope with shaking fingers. Whatever it was, it had Kara looking pale and nervous, and Lena realised that her bright happiness had been a brave attempt to put off confronting what was in the envelope. She knew what it was; there was only one thing that would have Kara so scared, and Lena’s chest felt tight as she fought back a wave of sickness. Kara looked over at her, her face a tight mask of pain, and Lena held her hand out.

 

            “I’ll do it,” she hoarsely told her. She’d done this before, taken on the heavy hearted task that someone else couldn’t bear to do, when Eliza had held Kara’s will in her hands. If she could face reading that, she could read the letter that determined her daughters future. Kara gave her a silent look of gratitude, her face pale as she held the envelope out to Lena, who fought to keep her hand steady as she reached out to take it from her. As she struggled to tear open the envelope, each moment seemed to drag on, and her mouth felt dry as she pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper, the perfectly printed ink addressed to her and Kara, and she started to read it. She didn’t get very far before she let out a shuddering sigh of relief, her eyes pricking with tears as she looked up at Kara and gave her a wobbly smile. “It’s okay.”

 

            Letting out a small cry, Kara clutched her chest, a wave of relief crashing over her, and she rushed over to Lena, wrapping her in the tightest hug she dared. Her shoulders shook as she silently sobbed, and Lena closed her eyes as she shakily breathed in the smell of Kara’s perfume, the familiar comfort of her embrace filling her with a warm feeling as she silently thanked the universe for whatever stars had aligned to revoke her daughter’s enlistment in the army. “She’s not going anywhere,” Lena told her, holding Kara tightly, while she tried to slow her pounding heart back down, grateful for the fact that she was in a wheelchair, because her legs felt weak.

 

            “Oh god, thank god,” Kara breathlessly said, pulling back and giving Lena a wide eyed look, “I was so scared. I thought-“

 

            “It’s okay,” Lena told her, her voice trembling slightly as she ran her hands up and down Kara’s, giving her a bright smile as she blinked back tears. “This is where it gets better. It’ll all be okay now.”

 

            Giving her a tearful smile, Kara nodded, turning back to the hot chocolates and adding swirls of whipped cream and piling hers and the two girls’ with marshmallows. She turned back around and looked at Lena for a moment, a hesitant look on her face as her eyebrows pulled down low over her eyes. “Should we tell her now? In here? I mean, obviously it’s okay for your mom to know, but I don’t want Daisy to be put on the spot with everyone.”

 

            Quickly agreeing, Lena watched as Kara carried two mugs out of the kitchen, waiting in silence for a few minutes, before the sound of wheels squeaking drifted towards her, and a confused looking Daisy was being pushed into the kitchen. Plucking two mugs off the counters, Kara handed one to Lena and one to Daisy, before she came to stand in front of her daughter, who was slowly reaching for Lena’s outstretched hand. “What’s going on? Is something wrong?” Daisy asked, her eyes wide and filled with concern.

 

            Dropping down to her knees before her, Kara reached out for Daisy’s other hand and gave it a tight squeeze, her eyes filled with tears as she smiled at her. “We got a letter from the recruitment office. You don’t- you’re not going anywhere.”

 

            “They’re not letting me- I don’t have to go?” Daisy hoarsely asked, giving both of her mom’s hands a tight squeeze as she carefully balanced her mug in between her legs. She let out a tearful sob, hunching forward slightly as she let her hair fall into her face, drawing in a shuddering breath. Lena reached over to gently rub her shoulder, leaning over to press a kiss to the faded grey shoulder of the t-shirt.

 

            “We’re not letting you go anywhere,” Lena choked out a laugh, “you’re grounded, remember?”

 

            Letting out a slightly hysterical laugh, Daisy pulled her hand out of Lena’s and wiped at her wet cheeks, her lips trembling as she tried to calm herself down. “Mom? I want to quit cadets.”

 

            Kara made a strangled sound and gave Daisy’s hand a squeeze, “okay, love.”

 

            “I’m sorry,” Daisy breathlessly told them, a begging look in her eyes as if she was trying to make them both understand just how much she regretted it. Lena didn’t need to be convinced, she already knew that it had been tearing her daughter up inside, and for much longer than she’d even known.

 

            “Never go behind our backs again,” Lena warned her in a low voice, “I know your mom and I have kept things from you before, but it was for a good reason, and you know we’ve always been very open and honest with you. I know you’ve been having a difficult time, but that’s why we’re here, love. We’re supposed to help you, so just … tell us, please.”

 

            Nodding, Daisy ducked her head, and Lena soothingly rubbed her back, feeling the tension fade out of her daughter’s muscles. “Yeah, I know,” Daisy murmured, “I was just scared.”

 

            Kara gave her a sad smile, “I know. I know how that feels, but it’s okay now. You-“ she punctuated her sentence with a quick kiss on Daisy’s forehead, “just need to get better now.”

 

            “You said we could talk-“ Daisy started, and Kara brushed her hair out of her face, gently cupping her chin and giving her a small smile.

 

            “We’ll talk soon. Your mom and I have to sort something out first,” Kara told her, hesitating when she saw the flicker of panic in her daughter’s eyes, “a small trip. For all four of us.”

 

            “A trip? Where?” Daisy eagerly asked, all worry dissipating at the thought of them going on vacation. “Is is Cabo? You said you’d take me in the summer if I did well in Spanish.”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, her eyes crinkling slightly at the corners, “no, it’s not Cabo. It’s not that kind of holiday. We’re going somewhere special for a few days. We’re going to go to National City.”

 

            Opening and closing her mouth as she debated asking more questions, Daisy just shrugged, letting out a small sigh as she took a sip of her hot chocolate. Lena took a sip of hers too, meeting Kara’s gaze as she tasted the rich sweetness of the whipped cream mixing in with the chocolate, smiling around the rim of her mug as she shrugged. Smiling slightly, Kara rounded the wheelchairs and started pulling Daisy backwards, before she wheeled her out of the room and came back for Lena, wheeling her towards the kitchen door and pausing as she bent down to brush her lips against Lena’s neck, her blonde hair tickling Lena’s shoulder as she let her head fall to the side.

 

            “Well this all turned out better than I thought,” Lena murmured, her eyes fluttering closed at the feel of Kara’s lips making her shiver.

 

            Kara hummed against her neck, wrapping her arms around Lena as best as she could and letting out a content sigh. “I need to call Alex and Maggie and thank them.”

 

            “Don’t forget we’re still slightly pissed,” Lena reminded her, her lips quirking up into a quick smile. Right now, her relief eclipsed any anger she bore either of them, and she knew they knew that they were in the wrong, but their hearts had been in the right places. Lena doubted she would’ve been able to cope with knowing that Daisy had enlisted on top of her and Kara arguing at the time, and it had been a relief to not have to painstakingly go through different laws and rules to try and find a way to void her daughter’s enlistment. But on principle, she was still somewhat mad.

 

            “Beyond pissed,” Kara grumbled.

 

            “Furious even,” Lena quietly laughed, reaching up to gently touch Kara’s hand.

 

            With a small sigh, Kara straightened up, clutching the handles of the wheelchair in her hands and pushing Lena down the hallway, letting her go every few feet and running to catch up with her, while Lena held their drinks and shook her head, a look of mirth on her face as her heart swelled slightly. This was her Kara. The laughter and the stupidly childish fun, the sugary drinks and the sweet kisses.

 

            Lena was still smiling when they made it back to the living room, letting Kara help her back onto the sofa, wincing as her broken ribs sent a stabbing pain through her chest, and smiling slightly as she watched Kara fuss with the thick knitted blanket she’d made for Lena years ago, making sure it covered her properly.

 

            “You look pleased,” Lillian commented, raising her eyebrows as she took a sip of her hot chocolate, her eyes trained on the TV.

 

            “I’m not quitting my job. Daisy’s not going in the army. Lena’s going to relax a bit and let me look after her. You’re going to be fine, Lillian, and Lily … you’re doing amazing, sweetie,” Kara said, letting out a satisfied sigh as she settled down on the sofa and ran a hand over Lily’s dark curls.

 

            The five of them all lounged about in the warm room for the rest of the night, watching Law and Order reruns in the comfort of each other’s presence. Even Lily didn’t make any snarky comments about Daisy, and Lena was only half paying attention to the TV as she took the time to appreciate her family, her eyes never straying from Kara for too long. Somehow, they always made their way back to her, right back to the first place she’d ever felt at home.

 

            It was late when everyone went to bed, leaving Lena laying wide awake on one sofa, listening to Daisy’s deep breathing from the other sofa, unable to fall asleep as her mind turned over a dozen different thoughts. She’d been finding it harder and harder to sleep over the past few months, and while she had felt a giant load lift off her shoulders lately, as one problem after another seemed to fix itself, she still felt restless. Part of that she attributed to the bulky casts and the antsy feeling of being unable to walk around or move properly. With a restless sigh, Lena shifted on the sofa, staring up at the ceiling and trying to get used to the feeling of sleeping on her back - a feat that had evaded her over the past few weeks - her left leg itching beneath the plaster of her cast.

 

            She was startled a moment later by a quiet exclamation, and Lena jerked her head to the side, looking across the room and making out the dark shadow of her daughter, propped upright slightly and breathing heavily. With the faint rustling of her heavy quilt, Lena gingerly pushed herself up, peering into the darkness, “Daisy?”

 

            The sound of a sharp inhale reached her ears, and she could feel, rather than see, her daughter’s eyes on her. “Bad dream,” Daisy quietly croaked.

 

            Lena could hear the pain in her voice, even though her daughter was trying to act like it hadn’t fazed her, and she softly cursed as she pushed herself up further, hissing a curse as she climbed to her feet, with difficulty. “Mom,” Daisy whispered, “you’re going to hurt yourself.”

 

            “I’m fine,” Lena insisted, awkwardly hobbling across the carpet, biting her lower lip hard as sharp pains ran up both legs.

 

            She was breathing heavily by the time she reached the other sofa, blinking back dark spots as her body screamed in protest at the movements her healing bones weren’t quite ready for. Nudging her daughter, Lena squeezed onto the sofa next to her, slipping under the heavy quilt and propping herself up on the pillows. It was a wide sofa, and they both comfortably fit on there as Daisy nestled down next to her, and Lena let out a shaky breath as she clumsily wrapped her arms around her daughter for the first time in weeks, feeling Daisy’s arm wrap around her waist in response. Turning her head to the side, Lena placed a kiss to the top of her head and gently squeezed her.

 

            “You’re safe,” Lena murmured, closing her eyes at the prickling feeling of tears.

 

            “I know,” Daisy quietly replied, “I have you.”

 

            Letting out a shuddering breath, Lena soothingly rubbed her back, feeling the warmth of her daughter in her arms and thinking that things hadn’t been this good in a while. It was like something clicked into place, and the simple act of being able to hold her daughter after a nightmare fixed whatever doubts she’d had about them being able to fix things after the crash. She hadn’t felt completely whole since waking up in hospital, and even though she’d known that Daisy was fine, it was another thing to hold her tightly and know that she was safe in her arms. “Yeah you do,” Lena softly replied, feeling the rise and fall of her daughter’s chest against her.

 

            “Mom? Can you- can you tell me a story or a poem or just … something?” Daisy hesitantly asked.

 

            “Of course,” Lena murmured, gently running a hand through her daughter’s hair as she thought, before settling on something.

 

“All along the garden path, silvery and bright, there’s a line where a snail took a walk last night.

 

It came from the rockery for something to eat, and that would be its footprints if a snail had feet.

 

Have you ever seen a snail, going for a walk, with its house on its back and its eyes on stalks?

 

Well, when its done it rolls them in its head, and goes inside its tiny house, and tucks himself in bed.”

 

            Daisy let out a quiet laugh of surprise, shaking against Lena’s side, “what was that?”

 

            Letting out her own quiet laugh, Lena smiled to herself, thinking about all the comforting memories she associated with the childish rhyme. “When I was little, my dad used to sing it to me before bed. And then when your mom- when she had nightmares, after everything that happened, I’d sing it for her as well, so she could go back to sleep. And then when you were born, I sang it to you, and then to Lily. It’s been so long since I’ve sang it to you; I’d almost forgotten about it.”

 

            “I like it,” Daisy murmured, “thank you.”

 

            “You’re welcome, honey,” Lena whispered, “now, go to sleep. I’m right here.”

 

            “Goodnight,” Daisy said, stifling a yawn as she nestled her head in the crook between Lena’s neck and shoulder.

 

            Turning to kiss the top of her head once more, Lena let out a quiet sigh, listening to the sound of her daughter’s breathing, “sweet dreams.”

Chapter Text

            Weeks passed by in ease, with old casts being changed for clean, new ones, until they were eventually cut off and both mother and daughter were freed from their wheelchairs and itchy prisons of plaster and bandages. A little stiff from weeks of sitting still, it took Lena a few days to get back into the feeling of walking, and Kara even took her to a few physical therapy appointments to help with her stiff joints and ease her back into moving around a lot. Daisy bounced back instantly, already itching to get back onto the track field, and Lena and Kara were both relieved at how she’d been over the past few weeks. Everything had practically gone back to normal, and without the wheelchairs and casts, it made it all look like it was normal. They were getting complacent in their avoidance of talking about everything, happy to ignore it while Lena and Daisy healed, and trying to ignore it completely now. It still hung over them though, and a week after losing her casts, Lena cornered Kara and told her to pack a bag.

 

            Alex and Maggie had volunteered to look after Lillian while they were gone, but Eliza ended up flying in to stay on the estate with her and take her to her next chemotherapy session, leaving Lena feeling a little less guilty about shooting off for the weekend. Kara hadn’t been back to work since the crash, and Lena had been on strict bed rest while Sam ran her company, which meant that they only had to pull the girls out of school for the Friday, which they were pleased about. They were less pleased about the early flight on Friday though, and Daisy grumbled the whole way to the airport, while Lily dozed against Lena’s shoulder, being gently shaken awake to get onto the private jet, and promptly falling back to sleep before they had even taken off. It was still cold in the mid-March weather, and Lena draped thick knitted blankets over both girls as they levelled out thousands of feet above the ground, while Kara made them both coffee in the small kitchen area, filling the inside of the jet with the smell of it, which was enough to perk Lena up in itself.

 

            Handing her a steaming cup, Kara sat down beside her, and Lena turned to look at her, taking in the dark circles under Kara’s eyes, and the slightly pale look of her drawn face. Reaching out, Lena placed a hand on her knee, giving it a reassuring squeeze and smiling slightly as Kara turned to look at her, pushing her glasses up her nose. “You don’t have to do it, you know,” Lena murmured, listening to the whirring of the plane as they bobbed slightly with the air currents, “I can tell them for you. I know you don’t like to talk about it. It’s been so long since you’ve told me.”

 

            Kara’s lips quirked up into a small smile, and she ran her hand down Lena’s arm, squeezing slightly to reassure her. “No, I should do it myself. I could’ve let you tell them years ago if I was never going to do it myself. I owe it to them now. And you’re right, it’s been a long time since I told you, and I’ve never told anyone as much about it as I told you, so I don’t know if it’ll be easier or harder now, but I’ll do it anyway.”

 

            “Are you sure-“

 

            “Lena,” Kara gently interrupted her, “I wouldn’t be on this plane if I wasn’t onboard with our plan. I’ve got the photo album, I’ve got the letters, and the keys to the apartment. And the parts that aren’t written in all of that … I can manage it. I promise. I do need you beside me though. I don’t think I could do it completely alone.”

 

            Leaning over to kiss her temple, Lena softly sighed, “I would never let you do it alone. It’ll be okay though, and you don’t have to go into detail about the hard parts. They’ll understand, just as long as you’re telling them yourself. I think Daisy just wants to hear it from you, more than anything.”

 

            Sighing, Kara took a sip of her coffee, and Lena copied her, savouring the warmth and bitter taste as she cast a look at her daughters. Lily was already out cold, stretched along the seats opposite them, while the only visible part of Daisy was a black boot dangling over the edge of the two seats in the back corner, where Lena had left her listening to music.

 

            “What if she gets angry again?” Kara asked.

 

            “It wasn’t what happened to you that upset her, it was not knowing it had happened that did. No one liked secrets,” Lena murmured, kissing her on the shoulder, “speaking of which, I’m thinking about selling CatCo. I can do it with a good profit, and the staff I sent over there can come back. It’ll mean less stressing about two companies, and less meetings with Gayle. More time for us.”

 

            Kara blinked in surprise, “is this because of what I said a few weeks ago? You know I was talking about just me, love. You don’t have to sell CatCo; I’m not working right now anyway, and neither are you.”

 

            Giving her a small smile, Lena’s serious expression softened, “I know, but my mom is going to have to retire in a few years - even if I have to knock some sense into her myself - and who do you think is going to inherit that company? For now, I think we should worry less about work and focus on ourselves. And the girls, obviously, but we’ve been selfish with ourselves when it comes to each other, and I miss you. I haven’t been able to touch you properly in months.”

 

            “You were only in a wheelchair for six weeks,” Kara pointed out, arching an eyebrow slightly.

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena gave her an exasperated look, “and before that, we weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. Which is why we’re on this jet right now. So let’s enjoy our weekend, talk to the girls, talk about us, and get back on track, because god knows we’ve suffered enough for five lifetimes.”

 

            “Don’t I know it,” Kara mused, taking another sip of coffee as she slowly shook her head, a lost look in her eyes.

 

            “How were things in therapy last night?” Lena quietly asked, not wanting to pry, but unable to stop herself from being a little concerned about Kara and her current state. It was a lot for her, and while her bad dreams had settled down again, Lena still sat in bed and watched her toss and turn all night, except for when she quietly read the reports she was reading aloud.

 

            Perking up slightly, Kara gave her a warm smile, “we talked a little about the trip. She seems to think it’s a good idea, and she said it might help clear my ‘guilty conscience’ and help things settle back down. I also told her about Mike’s phone number he gave you months ago, and she thought it might actually be a good idea to call him. Don’t give me that look; I haven’t actually called him, and it’s not his fault he accidentally lit a fire under us all.”

 

            Lena struggled to keep her face neutral, feeling a little off put by the thought of Kara seeing Mike again, after her reaction to bumping into him the last two times. “Do you think it’s a good idea?”

 

            Shrugging, Kara gave her a slightly sheepish look, “I think it might be. I don’t think I could face him alone, and I don’t think he could too, but we both know his wife Imra, so perhaps if the four of us met up …”

 

            “You’ve given this quite some thought,” Lena broodingly replied, “I suppose we can have a nice parent-teacher chat over coffee to break the tension.”

 

            “You’ll come if I decide I want to go?” Kara asked, her eyes widening slightly in surprise at Lena’s willingness to come.

 

            Giving her a tender smile, Lena nodded, “you should know by now that I’d do anything for you. If he messes everything up again I’ll kick his ass though. Just forewarning you.”

 

            Laughing, Kara shook her head and drank her coffee, nestling up to Lena’s side as they settled in for the next couple of hours. It wasn’t long before Kara drifted off to sleep, and despite her bone-deep tiredness, Lena stayed awake, feeling content to just flick through the novel she brought with her, or let her eyes dart to all three of her girls, feeling her heart swell with love each time.

 

            The sun was peeking out from behind heavy clouds when they landed in National City, and were swept into a waiting car. Lena didn’t know why, but she felt nervously excited being here, even though her and Kara made annual trips back to the city, and she had to bite back a smile every time she caught Kara’s eye, knowing she was feeling the same - perhaps a little more nervous. They passed bistros and parks that they’d frequented, and bowling alleys and bars, and the towering skyscrapers were as familiar to them as the skyline of Metropolis. Through a warren of metal and glass buildings, reflecting the weak sunlight and making the whole city shine, they finally made it to their old apartment, and Lena craned her neck back as she looked up at the penthouse, breathing in the smell of rubber and car exhaust of the city. Gathering their bags from the car, Lena walked inside with both of her girls straggling along behind, looking around in interest. They stepped into the private elevator, which took them straight up to the penthouse, and Kara produced her old key for the apartment and let them all in. Waving both girls in ahead of her, Lena smiled over her shoulder at Kara and reached out to grab her hand, before pulling her inside after her, pausing as Kara kicked the door shut behind her.

 

            The quiet sound of everyone’s footsteps echoed down the hallway, and Lena breathed in the dusty smell, laced with bleach and vanilla from the cleaner who came in twice a week to water her rooftop garden and keep the house clean. Walking out of the mouth of the hallway, both women paused as they took in the layout of the room, which was different to how it had been when they’d first met, but still familiar in the months following Kara’s return. Sheets were still draped over some of the furniture, but everything was exactly the same as when they’d moved to Metropolis, and Lena set her bag down on the kitchen counter and smiled.

 

            “Well, this was home,” Lena proclaimed, gesturing around the place.

 

            “It’s nice,” Lily said, turning in a slow circle as she took in the room, while Daisy pulled a sheet off one of the leather sofas and laid down.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena smiled slightly, “how about you girls go and pick a bedroom and then we’ll go for breakfast.”

 

            They both eagerly agreed, and Lena picked her bag up again and gave Kara’s hand a quick squeeze, feeling her heart flutter at the smile she got in return. Walking towards their old bedroom, where they’d shared so many memories - good and bad, just like the rest of the apartment - they dumped their bags on the floor, and Lena sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling Kara down beside her.

 

            “It always makes me feel young again when I’m here,” Kara murmured, resting her head on Lena’s shoulder. “There’s so many memories here, and I still feel like I’m twenty-six and newly in love with you.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena ran a hand through Kara’s hair and kissed the top of her head, “well it doesn’t matter how old you are, I’ve always loved you the most.”

 

            “I know. And I know it hasn’t always been easy, so thank you,” Kara told her.

 

            “You know, you’re always doubting how easy it is to love you. Me, the ice princess, couldn’t resist you after literally a few hours of knowing you. Just because we haven’t had an easy life doesn’t mean that loving you wasn’t easy,” Lena murmured, “that’s always been the easy part, because I know I could never stop loving you.”

 

            Sitting up, Kara cupped her cheek and gave Lena a rough kiss, and then a gentler one before pulling back. “Neither could I, no matter how bad it all got. I’m sorry for the things I said.”

 

            Letting out an exasperated sigh, Lena gave Kara an amused look. “You’ve apologised every day since, you don’t have to keep saying sorry.”

 

            Laughing, Kara kissed her again, losing her balance slightly, until they were both laying down on the bed. “I’ll say it every day until I make it up to you.”

 

            “Oh don’t worry, I’m sure our talk will be really nice,” Lena taunted her, smiling as she pushed herself up, while Kara groaned about the inevitable talk. Lena wasn’t mad at her anymore, but she still felt hurt every time she thought about their arguments and avoidance, and it didn’t matter if she had forgiven Kara already, she was adamant that they’d talk about it once they were all back on their feet and clear headed.

 

            The sound of footsteps down the hallway drifted towards them, followed by a slight pause and a loud laugh. Daisy. Then the footsteps resumed, slightly faster, and their daughter appeared in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe and crossing her lanky arms over her chest. She looked slightly smug and a bit surprised as she looked at Lena. “Nice hole in the wall.”

 

            Feeling her cheeks warm slightly, Lena sat up and climbed to her feet, clearing her throat. “That was your Aunt Maggie’s doing,” Lena said, walking over to the door and kissing her daughter on the cheek. She brushed past her and hesitated, a smile playing on her lips. “Well, the framing part was her. The hole is mine.”

 

            “Badass,” her daughter nodded approvingly, and Kara groaned.

 

            “No! It is not badass!” she protested, “it was silly and childish, and getting angry and punching things is not a good way to cope. Right, Lena?”

 

            “Trust me, after punching that locker, she’s not going to be in a rush to punch anything else for a while,” Lena laughed, “come on, let’s go, or you’ll be moaning you’re starving in a minute.”

 

            Soon enough they were all back downstairs, this time in the sub-level parking garage, sliding into the cool leather interior of one of Lena’s old cars. The engine purred as she drove them out of the garage, shooting down everyone’s questions when they asked where she was taking them, although Kara had a sneaking suspicion, which turned out to be right when they pulled up on the other side of the road. Slipping into a parking spot, Lena handed Lily some coins for the parking metre and locked the car door, before ushering everyone to the side of the road and looking both ways. On the other side of the road, there was a little café nestled in between the other buildings, and Kara gave Lena’s hand a squeeze as they followed the girls inside.

 

            It was still quite early, so the breakfast rush hadn’t come through yet, which meant they had their choice of tables, and at the sight of Daisy heading for a table in the back corner, Lena called out. “Come over here, by the window.”

 

            Frowning slightly, Daisy wound through the tables and chairs and sat down next to Kara, who was sitting opposite Lena, her blue eyes filled with adoration and happiness, mirroring the look in Lena’s eyes. They all picked up menus and silently began reading over their options, and then Lena went up to place their order, coming back with a bright smile on her face. “So, a side note for you, we own this place.”

 

            “What?” Daisy asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise, “why a small café?”

 

            “This is the place we first met,” Kara said, a wide smile on her face as her eyes crinkled at the corners, “at this very table; these very seats. The owner was closing it down after some financial trouble, but your mom and I couldn’t bear to lose it. We used to come here all the time when we still lived here. It was our place.”

 

            Lena’s expression softened, and she glanced at her girls, giving them a warm smile. “I was taking a break from the office when some stranger asked if she could sit down. I took one look at her and knew I couldn’t say no. I missed two meetings that day because I couldn’t bring myself to leave.”

 

            Laughing, Kara reached across the table and gave Lena’s hand a quick squeeze. “I already had a table at the back, but I gave it up to a woman and her kid and plucked up the courage to come over and say hi. I had only just gotten back from my last deployment and had no idea who she was.”

 

            “So this is the café you’re always talking about?” Lily asked, looking around the place with a newfound appreciation for it.

           

            “Mhm,” Kara nodded, “we talked for hours, and your mom let me take her photo with my old polaroid camera. Afterwards, I gave her my number and I couldn’t stop thinking about her for the rest of the day.”

 

            Groaning slightly, Daisy rolled her eyes, “please don’t spout all that love at first sight crap.”

 

            Laughing, Lena shook her head, an amused look on her face. “No, it wasn’t love at first sight. Your mom always says that she knew she could’ve fallen in love with me though. It was more like the possibility of it, and it worked out perfectly.”

 

            They were interrupted by their drinks being set down on the table, and they silently thanked the waitress, while Lena smiled at her cappuccino and Kara’s latte. They talked all through breakfast, with them explaining their first meeting to their daughters, and how they’d felt, and how nervous they’d been the first few times they’d met up again. Kara told them all about all of the firsts she’d helped Lena experience, and some of the firsts they’d done together, like falling in love, and both girls were enraptured by the tale of their parents’ love. A lot they had heard before, like the raw chicken, the peanut butter and their first kiss at the baseball game, but some small tidbits were new, and they liked hearing the story told in order, from the very beginning. They had more drinks, sipping them in the comfort of the sun as it shone a little brighter, warming them through the window, and time slipped by quickly as the story went on.

 

            Afterwards, they drove to the pier, where Kara had taken Lena to the carnival, walking the length of it while they watched the grey sea roll in and out. They played arcade games for the better part of the late morning, and had hotdogs for lunch from the place where Kara still insisted had the best hotdogs ever. Lena couldn’t help but think that Kara was right - it did make her feel young and newly in love as she relived some of the old experiences. It was different though, because there was more love now. They’d spent almost half of their lives together now, and they had two kids, who they loved more than anything, and as the family of four explored the city and relived the story of Kara and Lena’s great romance, Lena couldn’t help but think that all those years ago, while she lived through these experiences, that she ever would’ve ended up this happy.

 

            Later on that night, they all gathered around the coffee table, the sheets pulled off the furniture, and the TV turned to the music channel, and they played Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit while they ate Chinese food from Kara’s favourite restaurant in the city. Then Lena taught Lily how to play poker, and they played a few hands, betting chores instead of chips while they all laughed and accused each other of cheating. By the time it reached midnight, Lena was curled up beside Kara, absentmindedly drawing patterns over her bare skin, a content smile on her face at how perfect the day had been. In some ways, she’d never felt closer to them all, and she was glowing with happiness at the chance to show her girls all of the places she’d loved their mom.

Chapter Text

         A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the trees surrounding the meadow on one side, and Lena breathed in the smell of the wild flowers blooming in the early spring. The sound of laughter came from behind her, and she whirled around, the wind snatching at stray strands of her hair coming loose from its braid, a wide smile stretching across her face as she watched her wife cross the threshold of the forest, followed by their two girls. Between the four of them, they carried a large picnic basket, a few blankets and two backpacks, and Kara moved into the middle of the meadow, spinning in a circle as she closed her eyes, basking in the weak sunlight and the familiar hiding spot she used to frequent.

 

         “We hiked all this way for this?” Daisy grumbled, shading her eyes as she looked around the meadow and the sprawling view over the side of the cliff.

 

         “Hey, don’t be too quick to judge,” Lena warned her, smiling as she took a blanket off her and shook it out, watching the red plaid pattern unfurl, before setting it down on the long grass and making sure it was all spread out properly. “You were named because of this place.”

 

         Collapsing onto the blanket, Daisy looked up at her mom, who was effectively blocking out the sun as she loomed over her, shaking out another blanket. “Really?”

 

         Kara laughed, sitting down on a blanket and pulling out bottles of flavoured water, handing a peach one off to Lena, and letting the girls pick from the remaining ones. “Mhm. The first time I brought your mom here I made her a crown of daisies and I dropped my old polaroid camera in the river. She went in and got it for me and fixed it herself. It was just when we’d actually realised we both liked each other. It’s special.”

 

         “So Daisy for the flower crown? And my middle name is May for the month I was born?” Daisy asked, arching an eyebrow.

 

         “Exactly,” Lena said, opening the bottle and taking a sip, before hesitating, “but there was also another meaning to this place. I came here after we thought your had mom died because I thought that I’d feel closer to her. It was one of out special places - one of the first ones - and you were so special to us. You still are.”

 

         “What about my name?” Lily asked, handing the wicker picnic basket to Kara, who quickly unbuckled it and started pulling out the sandwiches and fruit salad and dozen other snacks they’d brought.

 

         Lena let out a quick laugh, “after grandma Lillian, of course. And your middle name is Eli for grandma Eliza.”

 

         “And it’s just as special, because both of our moms have been very important people in our lives,” Kara said, wrinkling her nose slightly as she smiled at her daughter.

 

         “So, did you bring us here to tell us the rest of the story?” Daisy asked, popping a grape in her mouth and raising her eyebrows expectantly.

 

         “Um, well, we just-“ Lena hesitantly started, looking at Kara for help, to see where she wanted to start.

 

         Gently clearing her throat, Kara sat up straight, her bottle tightly clutched in her hands and her lips pressed in a hard line. Taking a deep breath, she smiled at them both, “well, it’s a long story, your mom and mine’s. I know you want to hear … the other part, but I’d like to tell you all of it. We told you how we met, and I’ll just- I guess we can carry on from there.”

 

         Nodding slowly, Daisy stretched her long legs out in front of her, leaning back on her elbows as she stared at Kara. At the uncertain look on Kara’s face, Lena leapt in to save her. “Right, well, yes so your mom brought me here and I went swimming to fetch her camera, and then on the way home I tried a PB and J sandwich she’d made for me,” Lena said, laughing at the memory, “she didn’t know I was allergic, and she didn’t realise until we got back to my place and I was covered in hives.”

 

         The four of them burst into laughter at Lena’s stupidity, too giddy in love to say no to Kara, even though she didn’t know she was in love at the time. It had been early days then, but as Lena reminisced over old memories, she couldn’t help but feel like perhaps she’d known all along that Kara was more than just a maybe. She was the first person who had ever been Lena’s home, and she’d felt that from the very beginning. They’d laughed easily, and loved even easier, and time hadn’t diminished any of it, it had only made Lena realise just how lucky she really was. With the sun on her golden hair, and her eyes crinkled as she smiled, Lena could almost forget that they were older, because this was the same Kara she’d fallen in love with.

 

         Over a picnic of a dozen different foods, Lena and Kara took turns retelling their story, while the girls hung onto every word, listening to the little stories that they hadn’t heard before. There was some editing for things that they didn’t think were appropriate to tell their kids, but they told them everything, sometimes not in order as a random story would come to mind, and they’d leap at the chance to add it in. They spent the whole afternoon in the meadow, kicking a soccer ball around as Lily showed them all up, and taking photos, while Kara absentmindedly wove the newly blossoming buttercups and daisies into chains. By the time the sun was starting to sink low on the horizon, they were packing up the leftover food and rolling up their blankets, all four of them tired after a day of lazing around all day, basking in the first few days of warmth that spring afforded them. The car ride home felt long, and the radio played staticky music, while Kara sang along and Lily dozed in the back. Daisy was quiet, staring out at the sunset as trees rushed past, giving way to neighbourhoods, and eventually the twinkling lights of the big city. Lena parked in the garage beneath her apartment building, and was already ordering pizza by the time the four of them had all filed into the elevator, pushing the button for the penthouse and making the quick trip up.

 

         Showered and dressed in comfy sweats and old t-shirts, the four of them crowded around the coffee table again, as they had the night before, a stack of pepperoni pizzas covering the surface. In her lap, Kara held the first photo album that she’d made for Lena, Daisy and Lily on either side of her, leaning in to peer at the polaroids stuck to each page, covering the stories they’d heard all day. In her own lap, Lena held a stack of letters - some addressed to her, and others to Kara - and she jammed a slice of pizza in her mouth, wiping her greasy fingers on her sweatpants before she pulled out the yellowed piece of paper. It had been years since she’d read over these letters, and she handled it carefully as she unfolded the pieces of paper, reaching up to grab the slice of pizza and biting off a mouthful, chewing quickly before clearing her throat.

 

         "To Lena,  Alex told me she’d bring you back to her place tonight so I figured I’d leave this in my room for you to find, along with the photo album. They’re just a few of the hundreds that I’ve taken over the past seven months, and a few out of the thousands I plan on taking in the future."

 

         Reading through the whole letter while the girls listened, Lena smiled at the words that Kara had written to her all those years ago, a feeling of warmth spreading throughout her body as her heart was filled with love. It had been there for so long, and Lena counted herself lucky that Kara still made her feel that way with her random letters, gentle kisses and easy smiles. Once she was done, she carefully refolded the letter and tucked it safely back inside the envelope, a bright smile on her face as she reached for another slice of pizza and pulled out the next letter - the one she’d written back to Kara. Reaching out, Kara plucked it out of her hands and opened it, reading it aloud for them all to hear, and Lena smiled as she thought back to how things had been when she’d written it. Saying goodbye to Kara back then had felt like the most unimaginable pain she could ever feel, and it was almost laughable that she thought that that was the only time that they would ever face some hardships. After so long, and so many things endured together, she knew that in hindsight, those few months without her had been an easy kind of pain, where it ached but it wasn’t the end of the world. Back then, she didn’t know that she would’ve believed she’d lost everything for a few short weeks, or that twenty years later her now wife would still be fighting the same battle she had been when she’d been returned to her.

 

         Back and forth they went, reading letter after letter, turning page after page of the photo album, laughing and smiling as they shared stories in between and reminded each other of the silly things they’d done. They’d smiled at the photos of their old dog, Athena, and Lena saw the twinge of sadness in Kara’s eyes at the memory of her faithful companion who had helped carry her through some of her worst days, then they winced at the memory of Lena being stabbed, and laughed at the shocked photo of her on her birthday, when Kara had walked into her office, hidden behind a ridiculously big bouquet of flowers to surprise her. Daisy snorted with laughter at the photo of Lena dressed as a ghost on her first Halloween going trick-or-treating, and Lena had fondly smiled at the photos from her birthday party, where her mom had shown up on Eliza’s doorstep at Kara’s invitation, and she’d felt like maybe they could fix things for good that time. Lena’s and Kara’s eyes had shone with tears at the blank polaroid stuck into the photo album, followed by a digital photo of Kara getting down on one knee as she proposed to Lena in the small art gallery, and Kara’s eyes crinkled at the corners, her voice thick with emotion as she recounted the whole experience, right down to the rambling speech she’d given before popping the question.

 

         The night wore on as Lena showed the girls how her and Kara had danced, leading her around the kitchen as they’d laughed, and Kara showed them some of her old army things, opening the dusty velvet boxes containing her medals she’d received after coming back home. Those hadn’t seen the light of day since they’d been awarded to her, as the feeling of guilt at surviving when the others hadn’t had been too much for her, but now, for her daughter’s, Kara had opened them up again and explained what they meant. Hours slipped by easily, as they spoke, answering questions and making Kara sing when Lena let slip that her old army nickname had been Jukebox, which had caused Kara to dig up an old video of Lena singing in a bar, and Lena had flushed bright red, hiding her face in her hands. It was fun and lighthearted for the most part, and Lena found that she loved reminiscing about all these old memories, loving the way it brought the four of them together. But it was all leading up to Kara telling them the whole story of what had happened to her, and as they came closer and closer to it, passing by Christmas, with photos of Lena in a bright red sweater, to Kara’s birthday, where Lucy had snapped photos of her opening the cards and presents that they’d all sent overseas for her, she could see the tension growing in Kara’s shoulders.

 

         Until they reached the point where Lena was standing at the end of the hallway leading into the open plan kitchen and living room, a haunted look on her face in the bright light, reliving moments she knew she’d never forget. “So I came in, and I was standing right here. It was dark, and I didn’t realise at first, but your Aunt Alex was sitting at the table. She frightened me and I laughed, but then I saw the look on her face, and I just- I knew. A small part of me had hoped it was a joke though,” Lena said, her voice growing thick with emotion the more she talked, “but it- it wasn’t. I collapsed right here, and I cried all night. Aunt Alex came over to me and we just … we held each other until the next morning, when Aunt Maggie finished working and came over. A few hours later, your grandma come over, angry that I’d skipped therapy, and found the three of us sitting on the sofa. It used to be facing the TV back then - it was a different one - and she realised what had happened.”

 

         “How- how long did you think mom was-” Daisy hesitantly asked, looking concerned as she looked up at Lena from where she was sitting on the sofa.

 

         “Two weeks,” Lena quietly told her, slowly walking back over to her family and sitting down beside Lily, pulling her daughter into her arms. “Those were the worst two weeks of my life. They were even worse for your mom.”

 

         “What did you do for two weeks?” Lily quietly asked.

 

         Lena gave her a gentle squeeze, smiling sadly down at her, “I cried. I cried every day, even when I didn’t think I could cry anymore. I barely got out of bed. My mom had to look after me; she had to feed me, put me in the shower, slip me sleeping pills so I’d sleep. I left the apartment once, to go to the meadow we went to today. I tried to run away, but your Aunt Alex stopped me, and Aunt Maggie yelled at us all. We were all a mess. All it took was each of us to lose one person, and we all fell apart, and my mom was the only one who was doing okay. I tore this place apart as well, putting everything that reminded me of your mom into our bedroom and shutting the door. The place was practically empty. I got rid of the sofa where she told me she loved me, and the bed where she looked after me when I was sick. Even the kitchen plates reminded me of all the meals we’d cooking together. How it’s decorated now … this is how grandma redecorated it while I went to Midvale. I stayed there for a week, and we had a funeral for your mom. We thought that making it final as soon as we could would help us all move on, but I’m not so sure that it would’ve. I’m glad I never had to find out.”

 

         “When did you find out she was okay?” Daisy asked, tilting her head to the side as she stared down at a few photos that hadn’t made the cut for the photo album. One of Kara’s headstone, which had since been removed, ones of the flowers that had been gifted to them all with everyone’s sympathies, which had been wilting by the time Kara was released from hospital. There were a few other ones of Kara in hospital, looking gaunt and sunburnt, the skin on her nose peeling as she lay in bed beside Lena, smiling as if she’d been given the greatest gift in the world just to be next to the woman she loved once more.

 

         Sighing heavily, Lena ran a hand through her hair, closing her eyes for a moment as she thought back to Eliza’s hesitant smile, the feeling of her warm hands cupping Lena’s wet face as she gave her an earnest look and spoke the words she’d been aching to hear for two weeks. They found her. Giving her daughter a tight smile, Lena blinked the memories away. “It was right after her funeral, actually. Well, it was during, but everyone thought it would be rude to take phones to a funeral, and they didn’t find out until they got home.”

 

         “They?”

 

         Nodding, Lena gave them a pained smile, “mhm. I stayed behind longer than everyone else to have a few more moments with your mom. She wrote us all goodbye letters just in case, and it was- it was hard. I sat down on top of her grave and I cried and begged her to come back, and then when I’d calmed down a bit, I read the letter she’d written to me.”

 

         She fell silent for a moment, before reaching over and picking up the last envelope they’d brought with them - the last one that they’d thought was important to the story. There were hundreds after it, but the story they’d come to tell the girls had started and ended with that letter, and while they’d read all the ones preceeding it, this was what the story amounted to; Kara dying in Afghanistan, leaving behind a broken hearted Lena, who didn’t know at the time that she was still alive. Opening the yellow envelope, Lena’s hands shook as she pulled the paper out, already knowing what it said, because those words had been etched in her mind since the moment she’d first read them. Unsure whether she could read it, she drew in a shuddering breath and met Kara’s reassuring blue eyes, so full of love and warmth, and giving her an encouraging look, and Lena gave her a wobbly smile, before looking back down at the pages.

 

         Clearing her throat, she started to read. “ To my dearest Lena,  If you’re reading this, then the only thing I can say is I’m sorry. I promised you I’d come home, and I didn’t intend for it to be in a box. I broke that promise, so I’m sorry. More sorry than you can ever imagine, because I know you, and I know that this is hurting you (it’s not vain to say that you’re heartbroken over me, is it?) I’m sorry that you’re hurting, and that’s something I will never be able to forgive myself for. As I’m writing this, you’re asleep in my bed at my mom’s house – curled up right next to me where you belong. You don’t know it yet, but I’m going to propose in a couple of days, and I hope that you say yes. If you said yes, and you’re reading this, then I’m sorry for that too, because that’s another promise I broke. Perhaps it’s selfish of me to ask when you might end up reading this, but I want you to know how much I love you while I can still tell you, and that I have a whole future planned for us. If I break that promise too, I want you to know it’s something that I’ll regret forever, because I wanted to do everything with you.”

 

         By the time she came to the end of the letter, her cheeks were wet with tears, and she quickly brushed them away, feeling stupid for crying, but knowing that her feelings were still justified. The moment when she’d read that letter, who whole world had come apart, and she’d thought that there had been no way to come back from it, and reading it now, twenty years later, didn’t diminish the heartbreak and overwhelming grief that accompanied the words.

 

         “I’ll love you forever, Lena Luthor. Yours always, Kara,” Lena said, her voice cracking slightly on her wife’s name.

 

         Looking up, Lena let out a quiet laugh at the teary looks in her daughter’s eyes, and the tears on Kara’s cheeks too. Kara gave her a grim smile, running her hand up and down Daisy’s arm as her daughter frowned slightly, turning towards Kara. “Wow, mom, way to soften the blow of your death,” Daisy muttered.

 

         “Yeah, well, there were some things I had to make sure your mom knew, just in case,” Kara shakily laughed, patting her daughter on her knee before climbing to her feet, her empty glass in hand. She paused and kissed Lena on the forehead before she carried on walking, “I’m glad I got to come back and say some of them myself.”

 

         She exchanged her glass for another one, filling it with red wine and pouring a glass for Lena too. It was time for her part of the story, and she could feel her nerves growing as the seconds ticked by. It was stupid for her to feel nervous telling her own children what had happened to her, but that wasn’t it; Kara was scared about confronting the memories that she’d tried suppressing for years. Even in therapy, she hadn’t gone into full detail about what she’d endured, and to relive it all after so long, when she was already trying not to fall back into the nightmares and flashbacks about it, was a scary thought for her. She almost considered taking Lena up on her offer to tell them for her, but Kara wanted to do it herself. It would be more meaningful coming from her lips, and she hoped they’d be able to understand it more.

 

         Sitting back down on the sofa, Kara took a sip of wine and set her glass down, bracing her elbows on her thighs as she hunched over slightly. Taking a deep breath, she ran her fingers through her hair, and Lena watched her with concern, waiting for the moment Kara asked her to jump in and help her. Clutching her own glass of wine in her hand, Lena wrapped one arm around Lily, who was waiting patiently, before sneaking a glance at Daisy, who was curled up in a ball, her arms wrapped around her knees as she looked at Kara. And then Kara started to speak, her voice low and hoarse, and her eyes squeezed shut, as if she was picturing it all. Lena wanted to cross over to her and hold her, but she knew that Kara wanted to get it all out, and even the slightest touch from anyone - but especially Lena - could make her come undone. Still, Lena kept a close eye on her, judging how close Kara was to panicking so that she could put a stop to it before she fell over the edge; it was the last thing either of them wanted, not only for Kara’s sake, but for their anxiety-ridden daughter and their fourteen year old, who were too young for their liking to have the added weight of their mother’s problems on their shoulders.

 

         “It was- it was two weeks before I was supposed to be coming home. They’d been putting us on more and more night patrols. Nothing serious, just recon missions. We’d go out, scout the area, and then come back to base. My squadron had never had any problems before. We’d always run perfect missions. This night though … we were heading back to base, driving through the foothills. The desert at night … it was so quiet, and we couldn’t hear anything except the engines of the jeeps. It was so dark - you don’t know how dark it really is when there’s no cities around - and we couldn’t see a thing past our headlights. I always thought that if there was someone approaching, we’d be able to hear them, or if there was just a tiny bit of movement, we’d see them with our night vision goggles… but we didn’t. The first bomb that dropped … it hit right in front of my jeep, and we flipped. I was stunned - we all were - and we didn’t know what was happening. It had all been so quiet just a minute before, but it was like the whole night had exploded. Some of my soldiers were in shock, and some of them were shooting at anything that moved. They were throwing grenades at us … we were wearing our goggles still, and we couldn’t- we couldn’t see anything. They had the high ground, and they picked us all off while we tried to run or fight back. I got the woman next to me out of the jeep - her name was Patterson - and then I dragged another one of my soldiers out from the fight. His name was Wilson, and he lived for three days. I went back in for more survivors, and I was pulling another soldier out - Altman - but a bomb went off at her legs. She didn’t make it … and then I got myself out before they bombed the whole thing.”

 

         “Matthews?” Daisy whispered, the word a question as she wondered why Kara hadn’t spoken about him.

 

         Raising her head, Kara gave her a pained smile, and Lena’s heart ached at the haunted look in her wife’s eyes. She still carried so much guilt inside her, and Lena wished there was something she could do to take it away, but there wasn’t, and no matter how many times Kara was told that she couldn’t have saved them all - that she was lucky to have got one man out alive with her - she knew that she still carried that guilt with her every day. It was one of the reasons why she’d hidden her medals away, because Kara felt sick at the thought of them awarding her for her bravery, when so many others had died fighting back. Softly sighing, Kara’s shoulders sagged slightly, and she glanced back down at her hands, which Lena could see were balled into fists, her fingernails leaving crescent shapes in her palms.

 

         “He got out. I ordered him to wait with Wilson - he couldn’t walk - and between the two of us, we dragged him through the foothills. We patched ourselves up. Here’s where I had a piece of metal impale me in one of the blasts,” Kara said, pulling her t-shirt up and the waistband of her sweatpants down. The scar was puckered and pink against her lightly tanned skin, faded with time, but still not a neat scar because of the infection and days before it had been closed up by doctors. Then she pulled down the shoulder of her t-shirt, showing them the circular puckered scar right near her joint, “this one is from a bullet.”

 

         “Wait, you were shot!?” Lily exclaimed, blanching slightly as she stared at the scar with wide eyes, “you told us that scar was from a broken collarbone.”

 

         Letting out a strained laugh, Kara let her t-shirt fall back into place, “well it did break my collarbone, but no, it’s from a bullet. We stayed in a cave for three days, until Wilson died. I had this old photo of your mom … here it is.” She produced a dusty and worn polaroid and handed it to Daisy, who passed it across the gap between the sofa’s, and Lena took it. She ran her fingers over the faded image of herself, a grim smile on her face as she imagined Kara doing the same while she waited for death, before passing it onto Lily, who pored over the photo, holding it carefully in her hands. “I looked at it non-stop during those three days, and after Wilson died, I knew that I couldn’t sit around and wait any longer. We left him behind, and we started walking. We walked for five days. We had barely any water, and no food, and by the time we made it out of the foothills, we didn’t care who picked us up, as long as it was someone. We’d had to drag each other onwards, because we knew that if we stopped, we wouldn’t keep going. It was the British who found us. We passed out at the sight of jeeps coming towards up and I woke up five days later in their infirmary. The next day I was back here, in a hospital, looking at your mom and feeling more relieved than I can even describe.”

 

         To Lena’s surprise, when Kara looked up, she wasn’t crying. Instead, there was a slightly dazed look in her eyes, and she looked a little pale. Lena, on the other hand, was blinking back tears, trying to keep it together for everyone else’s sake. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lena reached over to brush Lily’s hair out of her face, giving her shoulder a comforting squeeze as she looked at the confused look on her daughter’s face.

 

         “I’m sorry,” Daisy whispered, breaking the silence after a few moments, and Lena and Kara both jerked their heads up to look at her.

 

         “What for?” Kara asked, settling back on the couch, reaching out to wrap one arm around Daisy’s shoulder and pulling her into her.

 

         “I was so mad you didn’t tell me,” she said, her voice cracking slightly, “I didn’t know. I wouldn’t-”

 

         Softly sighing, Kara shifted closed, wrapping her other arm around Daisy and gently stroking her hair, “hey, it’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to get mad, and it’s okay that you were upset - I should’ve told you sooner - but it’s not … well, I don’t like to talk about it. It’s like how you don’t like to talk about what’s going on in your head too. That doesn’t mean it’s something we shouldn’t talk about though, because sometimes we need to tell people to help them understand, so they can help us back. Your mom and I … when I came back I-I wasn’t doing so good, and your mom convinced me to go and talk to someone. It helped, but it’s still something I don’t talk about that often, and only with your mom when I do. It’s something that I’ve tried to hide from you both, so that I could focus on being your mom, but sometimes I have bad patches - even now.”

 

         Lily tilted her head to the side as she looked at Kara, a confused look on her face, “you mean like the time in the car?”

 

         “Yeah, like that,” Kara softly replied, a sad look on her face. “After I came back, I was- I was diagnosed with … it’s called PTSD. It’s a thing that some people get after going through trauma. It doesn’t have to be like mine, but it’s- it’s common in people who were in the army. It just means that what happened to me over there … sometimes I have flashbacks about it, or nightmares, and some days it’s hard to live with that. A lot of people died that day, and some of them were my friends, and people I was supposed to keep safe, and I got to live and they didn’t. I’ve spent years trying to get through it, and I’m mostly okay now, but lately … I’ve not been doing so good because I saw the man who survived with me, and it brought back a lot of bad thoughts.”

 

         “But you’re okay now?” Lily asked, her blue eyes wide with worry.

 

         Giving her a weary smile, Kara nodded, “yeah, I’m okay, love.”

 

         The four of them were quiet for a few moments, and as Lily leant her head on Lena’s shoulder, she became aware of how late it was getting. They’d been talking for hours, and it was way past Lily’s bedtime, if not almost time for Daisy’s too, and Lena gently pushed her daughter’s head up. “Come on, it’s time for bed now. If you have anymore questions for your mom, it can wait until tomorrow.”

 

         “How about I come and make sure you’re all tucked in and switch your light off for you?” Kara suggested, giving Lily a small smile as she climbed to her feet. Nodding, Lily got to her feet, leaning down to kiss Lena goodnight, before she followed Kara down the hallway leading to some of the spare rooms.

 

         Lena was left alone with Daisy, who had a brooding look on her face as she stared at the floor, her eyes slightly out of focus. After watching her for a few moments, Lena pressed her lips into a thin line, wondering whether she should interrupt her daughter’s thoughts or not. “Hey, what’re you thinking about, love?”

 

         Head jerking up, Daisy blinked as she brushed aside her thoughts, and she wearily climbed to her feet, walking around the pizza strewn coffee table and sitting down beside Lena, curling up and putting her head in her mom’s lap. Leaning down, Lena kissed the side of her head, before she set about gently stroking her daughter’s long, dark curls. “I know it’s a lot to take in. How’re you feeling?”

 

         “I’m okay,” Daisy murmured, “I just- I wish I’d known sooner. I think that maybe things would’ve been a lot different. Maybe I would’ve been different.”

 

         “Maybe,” Lena agreed, “but your mom was worried about you being too young to handle it. It’s not easy to know about what happened to her. I know I’m still not okay with knowing how badly she was hurt, and I’ve had decades to process it.”

 

         “Is that why you worry so much all the time?” Daisy quietly asked, “do you always worry that we might not come home again?”

 

         Lena gave her a sad smile, her finger running through her hair while Daisy lay with her eyes closed. “Yes,” she whispered, “I’m scared about that every day. I thought that losing your mom was the worst thing to ever happen to me in the world, but I know that for my mom … losing my brother was a lot worse. We’ve always been protective of you because we know how it feels to lose the people we love, and we love you so much that we never want to lose you. When your mom got mad about the army thing … it wasn’t about going in the army, it was about losing you.”

 

         “I know,” Daisy sighed, “I thought it would make her proud; I didn’t know it would make things worse for her.”

 

         “You didn’t make things worse for her,” Lena quietly assured her, “she’d already run into Mike before then. It was a lot of things, love, and none of it was your fault. Here, sit up a second.” Sitting up and shifting slightly in her seat, Daisy watched as Lena reached up and unclasped the necklace dangling around her neck. Holding the silver locket in the palm of her hand, the thin chain pooled beneath it, Lena hesitated, before holding it out to Daisy, who carefully took it, giving her mom a curious look. “I got that off my brother when I was sixteen. After what he did … I blamed myself. I told myself that I should’ve known because he was my brother, and I wore that necklace everyday to remember him by. It was empty inside for years, until I met your mom, and she was the first person I ever loved. I have a lot of people that I love now, but she was the first. I remember the day she left to go back to Afghanistan, and I took her photo and put it inside so I had something to remember her by. It gave the locket a new meaning to me, because instead of reminding me of the guilt I felt about my brother, it reminded me of the love I felt for your mom, and every time I opened it and stared down at her picture, I felt closer to her, even if she was miles away.”

 

         Prying open the silver locket, Daisy stared down at the photo of Kara, twenty years younger and without the delicate lines that time had worn into her face from laughter and worry. On the other side, Lena had added another photo. Two dark haired girls were sitting side by side, the eldest no more than seven, and the youngest about three, and they both flashed dimpled smiles at the camera. “Oh. It’s us.”

 

         “Mhm. The three most important people in my life. You know, your mom was never quite the same, all the way up until we had you. I mean, she got better, and she was my Kara again, but there was always a little piece of her that wasn’t as carefree as she was in that photo in there. When we brought you home … being a mom put a light back inside her that I'm not sure we even knew was missing, and it’s been there everyday since - even on the bad ones. So if you ever think that you’re the reason that she’s having a rough path, you’re not; having you has been one of the best parts of her life, and I know that, because you’re one of the best parts of my life too.”

 

         Nodding as she blinked back tears, Daisy shut the locket and held it back out to Lena. “Here.”

 

         Curling her daughter’s fingers over it, Lena gave her a small smile, “no, you keep it. Maybe one day you’ll find someone you love enough to put inside there, so you can always feel close to them too.”

 

         Slowly nodding, Daisy uncurled her fingers, staring down at it, and Lena let out a quiet laugh, plucking it from the palm of her hand and putting it around her daughter’s neck. Quickly doing it up, she gently touched the locket, before brushing Daisy’s hair out of her face. Wrapping her arms around her daughter again, Lena held her close for a few moments, and when she finally let her go, Daisy looked up at her, a hopeful look in her eyes. “Mom? Until I find someone else … can I have a photo of you to put in there? Maybe one of you and Lily, so I don’t have to kick her out. I’d like to keep the one of mom, if that’s okay.”

 

         “Sure, babe,” Lena laughed, “I’ll dig one up for you when we get back home.”

 

         “Thanks, mom,” Daisy sighed, resting her head on Lena’s shoulder, “I love you.”

 

         “I love you too, honey.”

 

         The sound of footsteps coming back down the hallway reached their ears a few minutes later, and Lena looked up to watch as Kara walked back in, pausing slightly and smiling at the sight of them nestled up on the sofa. “You look half asleep, Dais,” Kara quietly laughed, “time for bed?”

 

         Walking over to their sofa, Kara sat down on the other side of their daughter, reaching out to gently stroke her hair. Lena gently lifted her daughter’s head off her shoulder, giving her a guiding push towards Kara, who immediately wrapped an arm around her, while Daisy rested her head on her shoulder. Lena climbed to her feet and quietly moved around the room, stacking empty pizza boxes on the kitchen counters, neatly gathering the letters up into a pile, and making sure all the photos were still where they were supposed to be. By the time she’d finished pottering around the place, Daisy was half asleep on Kara’s shoulder, and Kara looked like she could do with going to bed too, a guarded look on her face as she rubbed soothing circles on her daughter’s arm.

 

         Walking over to them, Lena reached out and gently shook Daisy, jerking her head towards their bedroom as she looked at Kara, who shook her head. “Come on, Dais. It’s time for bed,” Kara softly told her, guiding her to her feet.

 

         Lena gave her a small nod, watching as Kara went to make sure she was safely in bed too, and Lena walked down the hallway to their bedroom, turning down the bed covers and climbing into her side while she waited for Kara to come back. It was a few minutes later when Kara came in, sagging against the doorframe and sighing. Holding her arms open, Lena beckoned her over, and Kara shut the door behind her, before she slowly walked over to the bed, crawling in beside Lena and letting her wrap her arms around her.

 

         “How’re you feeling?” Lena asked, “do you need anything? A back massage? Bubble bath? A cup of tea?”

 

         “I just want you to hold me,” Kara said in a small voice, and Lena tightened her grip around her. “Aren’t we supposed to be having our talk now?”

 

         Letting out a short laugh, Lena kissed Kara on the forehead, drawing her fingertips over her back in lazy patterns, “no, not tonight. It’s been a long night, and I want to make sure you’re okay. Talking can wait.”

 

         Relaxing slightly in her arms, Kara closed her eyes, and Lena reached over to the light switch beside the bed, plunging them into darkness. They were quiet for a few minutes, and Lena closed her eyes, continuing the gentle, soothing circles she traced on Kara’s back, and then Kara let out a heavy sigh. “It was bearable,” she finally admitted, “I didn’t like it, but I did it. I feel … lighter.”

 

         “I’m proud of you,” Lena told her, giving her a gentle squeeze.

 

         “I’m glad we took our time, starting at the beginning. It was nice,” Kara said, and Lena smiled to herself, glad that Kara had liked some aspect of their trip. They still had tomorrow, and Lena knew that they would finish off the rest of their story then, before their flight home in the evening, and she hoped it would be easier now. The hard part was over, and Kara had stumbled through it better than Lena had expected her to, and she hoped that she would feel better about it all tomorrow.

 

         “Me too,” Lena agreed, “if I didn’t already love you so much, I think hearing it all over again would’ve made me fall in love with you again.” Kara quietly laughed, and Lena smiled, rolling her eyes as she tickled her ribs, “I’m being serious, you ass. I really do love you. It’s been so long since I’ve read over those early letters, but god, I love you so much - then and now.”

 

         “I love you too,” Kara told her, “and I meant what I said; I’ll love you forever.”

 

         “Yeah, me too,” Lena whispered, kissing the top of her head.

Chapter Text

         The next morning, Kara made them all pancakes and they sat around the table, answering more questions and finishing off the rest of their story, while Lena flipped through the photo album, showing off more photos and feeling nostalgic. Kara explained her recovery as best as she could, leaving no details out as she struggled to talk about how she’d changed when she came back, and Lena kept a reassuring hand on top of Kara’s, giving it the occasional squeeze whenever her wife faltered slightly. They talked about her nightmares and panic attacks, and Lena’s trouble sleeping, Kara’s therapy and how their old dog, Athena, had been a comfort to her when being around people became too much. Lena told them about their wedding planning, and how they’d spent a few weeks in Midvale, enjoying the fresh air and the sea, and how she’d read Kara poems until she fell asleep. The girls had a lot of questions, and their plates had been long since scraped clean by the time they left the table, satisfied for the time being.

 

         They had a flight in the afternoon to take them back to Metropolis, and Lena spent the rest of the morning washing their clothes and packing everything away, helping Lily with her homework and tidying up around the apartment. Then she settled down in her old office and worked on some paperwork, until lunchtime rolled around and Lily was knocking on the door to ask what they had to eat. Finishing up her work, Lena capped her pen and closed her laptop, rolling the chair backwards and climbing to her feet. Walking over to the door, she paused slightly as she stood next to her daughter, a small crease forming between her eyebrows as she looked her up and down, taking in the lanky limbs and and bare feet of her, before she looked back up.

 

         “What’s wrong?” Lily asked, her blue eyes innocent as she wondered why Lena was looking at her like that.

 

         “Mother fu- you’re taller than me!” Lena exclaimed, and it was true, as she realised that over the past few months her daughter had grown at least an inch, putting her taller than Lena. She hadn’t noticed the exact moment Lily had surpassed her height, but the sudden realisation that her little girl wasn’t quite so little was shocking. “You’re not even fifteen yet! How are you taller than me?! You obviously take after your mother.”

 

         Laughing, Lily threw her shoulders back and straightened up, trying to make herself look even taller so she could stare down at Lena, who looked slightly peeved. “Knock it off,” Lena grumbled, poking her in the side and laughing as Lily let out a surprised yelp. “Speaking of your mother, where is she? I’m thinking pie for lunch.”

 

         Blinking in surprise, Lily gave Lena a wary look, “pie, for lunch? Who are you?”

 

         Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, Lena steered her daughter out of the doorway and shut the office door behind then, “I’m your mom, who married a sugar-obsessed woman, who’s passed it on to you. Besides, we could all do with a break,” Lena sighed. “You seen her around here anywhere? She can’t have gone far. Blonde hair, same eyes as you ...”

 

         Rolling her eyes, Lily walked down the hallway to the kitchen, no doubt with the intention of raiding the cupboards for a quick snack. “Daisy wanted her for something last time I checked. Try her room maybe.”

 

         Kissing her on the temple, Lena walked down the hallway and stopped outside Daisy’s door, quietly knocking and opening the door a crack. The room was empty, but she could hear voices coming from the bathroom - the sound of laughter and undistinguishable words - and smiled as she crossed the room, freezing when she reached the door, which was slightly ajar. Pushing it open, she crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her head to the side, looking at her guilty looking daughter, holding a chunk of blonde hair in her hand and a pair of scissors in the other. Kara turned and looked at Lena, a laugh dying on her lips as she gave her wife a sheepish look, half of her hair cut to above her shoulders.

 

         “Uh, so is this a bad time?” Lena asked, arching an eyebrow, her eyes straying back to her daughter, whose own dark curls had been chopped off as well, laying abandoned on the tiled floor.

 

         “Surprise?” Daisy said, a nervous look on her face as she bit her lip.

 

         Lena stepped into the bathroom, stopping behind Kara and reaching out to lift a lock of hair, taking in the jagged, uneven edges, before she turned back to Daisy, slowly reaching out and pulling her closer. “Make sure you thin the ends out when you’ve finished the rest.”

 

         “Oh, okay,” Daisy said, looking relieved at the fact that Lena wasn’t mad at the fact that she’d just walked in on her wife and daughter haphazardly chopping each others hair off in what looked like some strange bonding moment.

 

         “I’m ordering lunch. It’s a surprise,” Lena told them, smiling as they opened their mouths to ask what they were having and put in their orders, and her smile grew a little as she looked at Daisy, reaching out to brush her hair out of her face. “I like it.”

 

         Eyes lighting up, Daisy gave her a small smile in return, “really?”

 

         Lena’s eyes crinkled at the corners as she gave her daughter’s chin a gentle tweak, “yeah, really. It suits you.”

 

         Walking back out into the hallway, Lena made for the kitchen, fishing her phone out of her pocket as she searched for the number of Kara’s favourite place to get pies, walking in to find Lily sitting on at the counter, making her way through a bag of pretzels. Rolling her eyes at her daughter, Lena leant on the counter and scrolled through her phone, listening to the quiet murmur of the TV and the crinkling of the bag of pretzels.

 

         “Any flavour in specific?” Lena asked, quickly glancing up at her daughter as her thumb hovered over the green phone.

 

         “You getting chocolate pecan?” Lily asked, a thoughtful look on her face when Lena nodded, “hm, maybe apple - but not the one with cinnamon, just plain apple. You can’t go wrong with plain apple. It’s Daisy’s favourite too.”

 

         Lena smiled slightly at her daughter’s thoughtfulness towards her sister, but she knew that Lily preferred blueberry or chocolate pecan though, and added a blueberry one to the list and called up to place their order. By the time Kara and Daisy emerged from the bathroom, a glum delivery guy had dropped three white boxes off and Lena was in the midst of cutting large slices from the pies, while Lily rummaged around in the freezer for some ice cream. At the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway, Lena looked up, watching as her wife and daughter emerged from the mouth of it, both of them sporting their newly cut hair and when Lily looked up, she let out a sound of surprise.

 

         “What happened to your hair!?” she exclaimed, and Lena let out a loud laugh, handing a plate out to Kara, who shrugged at her daughter.

 

         “We’re having pie for lunch?” Kara asked, her face lighting up as she took the plate off Lena, “I love you.”

 

         Smiling as she shook her head, Lena stepped forward and quickly kissed her on the cheek, before reaching out and tucking her short hair behind her ear, pursing her lips slightly as she took in the neatly trimmed ends. Eyes darting over to Daisy, who was nervously awaiting her verdict, Lena smiled. “It looks good,” Lena told Kara, who raised her eyebrows, a smile playing on her lips. Turning back around, she scooped some vanilla ice cream out of the tub and put it on the plate with the slice of apple pie, before handing it over to Daisy, “apple for you.”

 

         “Thanks,” she smiled at Lena, taking her plate and walking around the counter to sit at one of the bar stools.

 

         Once they all had a slice of pie before them, they sat in a row along the stools lined up along the island counter, laughing and talking as they ate, and Lena felt a lightness inside her as everything seemed to be exactly the way it was supposed to be. She had her family, and there were no more secrets, and the bright sunlight outside shone in through the windows, bringing with it the promise of summer, which was a relief after the miserable, dark winter they’d had with all of their problems. They were moving past it now though, and Lena felt happier than she’d been in a while, helped by all of the happy memories she’d made with Kara in National City that she hadn’t thought about in a while. Coming back with the girls had been a good idea, and even though her and Kara came back annually on the weekend they’d first met, Lena made a mental note to bring them back more often. It was nice to have a change of scenery, and a part of Lena wished that they could stay and ignore the real world, with their jobs and school and her sick mom, but she knew that it would be better from now on - she wouldn’t have to worry so much now.

 

         They left in the afternoon, and were home by dinner time, the four of them all crowding through the door with their bags in hand, and Lena had to admit that it was nice to be home, despite how much she’d enjoyed their weekend away. An excited Dalmatian met them at the door, followed by the sound of footsteps, and Eliza’s blonde head poking out of the kitchen.

 

         “You’re home! Oh, Kara, your hair!” Eliza said, her eyebrows rising in surprise, “and Daisy. What have your girls been up to all weekend. Good god. Did you all get matching tattoos as well?”

 

         “Hi, mom,” Kara said, wearily dumping her bags near the door and shucking off her coat, before self-consciously running a hand through her hair. “We passed on the tattoos - we’re waiting until Lily’s eighteen.”

 

         Laughing, Eliza shook her head, holding her arms open for both of her granddaughters to give her a hug, and then she turned to Lena, a soft smile of her face, and Lena gave her a quick hug. “Hi. How’s everything been here?”

 

         “We’ve all been fine. Your mom had a bit of a bad spell yesterday, but it’s nothing to worry about. Just a bit nauseous, but she’s feeling much better today,” Eliza said, her arm around Lena’s shoulder as she steered her towards the kitchen. “Alex and Maggie are here too. They brought curry with them from that place Kara likes.”

 

         “Thanks for looking after her for me,” Lena said, giving her mother-in-law a quick smile.

 

         Eliza waved away her gratitude as they walked into the kitchen. A stack of plates sat on the kitchen counters, and a variety of different plastic containers littered the surface; rice stained yellow with saffron, a deep reddish Tikka Masala with chicken, a milder yellow Korma with green beans and carrots, and a greenish one that Lena knew no one but her and Maggie would risk trying. The welcoming warmth of her own home pulled her inside, her face lighting up slightly at the sight of Lillian, looking a little pale and worn, but still her brisk usual self as she set her pen down and took of her glasses, turning to face her daughter.

 

         “Mom, what did I tell you about doing paperwork?” Lena sighed.

 

         “Only do it when Kara’s not home,” Lillian shot back, and Kara made a disapproving sound from behind Lena, poking her in the back to get her to walk into the room.

 

         Maggie let out a sound of surprise at Kara’s shoulder length hair, repeated again at the sight of Daisy, “what, did you all turn into hairdressers while you were gone? Did Lena attack you with a pair of scissors in the middle of the night?”

 

         “What, you don’t like it, Aunt Maggie?” Daisy asked, arching an eyebrow as she pouted slightly.

 

         “It looks great, sweetheart,” Alex told her with a smile, “you look all grown up.”

 

         Lena shared an exasperated look with Maggie about that; both of them were a lot more sentimental about having a family than their wives, having had problems with their own, and neither of them were very eager for their little girls to start growing up. “Come on, enough talking,” Lena interrupted, “the food’s going to get cold.”

 

         “Dais, go and get a bottle of wine from the basement,” Kara asked, pausing as Daisy went to open her mouth, before adding, “no, you’re not having a glass.” Huffing, her daughter stalked out of the kitchen, and Lena helped Alex plate up the food, while everyone else pointed out which dishes they wanted.

 

         “You look less tired,” Alex quietly said, and Lena looked up to see her smiling slightly, her brown eyes full of warmth, “the trip went okay then?”

 

         Nodding, Lena added some garlic naan to a plate and handed it over to Carter, who thanked her and dashed over to the table, already falling into conversation with Lily as they sat side by side. “It went better than I thought. Tough, but good,” Lena told her, “and Kara seems a little less stressed about it all now.”

 

         “And Daisy? I mean … the hair,” Alex said, her eyes straying to the door as her niece walked back inside with a bottle of wine under one arm, and a dog under the other. Setting the bottle down on the table, she walked over to the sink and quickly washed her hands, while Lena and Alex stared at her.

 

         When she took a seat at the table, Lena looked back at Alex and shrugged. “The hair … I don’t know. Kara did the same when she was going through a lot of shit. I guess they both just wanted a change again after a rough few months. She doesn’t seem too bad after going to see that new shrink I was telling you about, so I think she’s doing okay. She took everything well, all things considered.”

 

         “Good,” Alex murmured, “she’s strong - this whole family is - so I know she’ll be okay anyway.”

 

         Smiling, Lena nodded, scooping some rice onto her place while she looked at the table full of her family. Alex was right, they were all strong, and as she looked at them all crowded around the table, she couldn’t help but feel amused about how strange the situation was. They’d all had their problems, and they’d all had their issues with each other - some worse than others - but they were all closer for it, and as Lena carried her plate over to the table, sitting down across from Lillian, she smiled, letting Kara pour some wine and falling into conversation with Maggie about a case she was working.

 

---

 

         It was growing late, the sky already dark outside, and both girls and Lillian holed up in their rooms. Lena was in the bath, her hand skimming the bubbles on the surface of the water as she leant back against Kara’s chest, their legs a tangled mess beneath the water. Steam curled up around them, and their skin was pink from the hot water, their hair sticking to their damp forehead and necks as they relaxed in the water. Smiling at the feeling of soft lips against her neck and shoulder, Lena let closed her eyes, thinking her words over carefully before she finally sighed, and resigned herself to the fact that they’d have to talk eventually, and putting it off even longer wouldn’t make them forget about it.

 

         “I think I’d like to have that talk now,” Lena quietly told Kara, whose lips paused just below Lena’s earlobe, making her shiver slightly.

 

         Pulling back, Kara settled back against the ivory rim of the bathtub, a guilty look on her face as she stared at the back of Lena’s head. “Oh. Yeah, sure,” she hesitantly replied.

 

         Smiling slightly at the wary tone, Lena leant back against her, reaching for Kara’s hands and wrapping her arms around herself so that she was held in her wife’s embrace, her head tilted back against her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to shout,” Lena lightly told her.

 

         “No, you’re going to be perfectly calm and reasonable, which is even worse,” Kara laughed, “and the worst part is, I know I’ll deserve it all. Go on, you say what you have to say - I can take it. I’d try and apologise again now, but I know it doesn’t really make a difference.”

 

         “I’ve already forgiven you,” Lena murmured, “so no, it wouldn’t make a difference.”

 

         Her eyelids fluttered closed at the feeling of Kara’s gentle fingertips brushing her skin, and Lena sighed, a sinking feeling in her heart. She didn’t want to talk about how hurt she’d been, not when it was all so perfect now, but pushing it aside wouldn’t help them. They’d always been so open with each other, after such a messy start to their whole relationship with Kara’s indecisiveness about reenlisting and Lena’s attempts to be selfless, even though she didn’t want Kara to reenlist, and for so long, they’d made decisions together. If there was ever an issue, they’d talked about it, and that had followed through into their parenting too, and they’d felt reassured that if their girls ever needed to tell them something, then they’d feel like they could. Right now, Lena knew that she could speak her mind, and they’d be okay. They’d be stronger for their talk, and so she grimaced, and stared at the bubbles collecting at the base of the tub.

 

         “You know, I felt pretty shitty,” she said, a pained smile on her face as she let out a sharp laugh, “I won’t deny it. It hurt to have you blame me.”

 

         “I know,” Kara murmured, her voice low and hoarse.

 

         “The number of times I told you to just- to just tell them, and you wouldn’t … and then when it all comes out, it’s my fault? I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but god, Kara, you made me feel like I was doing a crap job at parenting, and you knew how much I’ve always feared that. You knew that, and I know you didn’t mean what you said, but you meant to hurt me - even if it was just for a moment - and that was so unlike you. I know you were hurting, but so was I. I know you went through a lot of shit, and you don’t like to talk about it, but I thought you were dead for two weeks - two weeks - and you think I like talking about that? You think that I wanted to have to tell them about how I buried your empty coffin and wished that I was dead too? How I struggled for weeks to get over it, because I had mourned for you, but you were still alive. And you had the cheek to say that it was my fault because I was trying to stop her from wanting to go into the army,” Lena ranted, her voice even and quiet.

 

         Kara’s delicate patterns that she was drawing on Lena’s skin stopped as she listened to what Lena said, and even though she had her back to her, Lena could almost feel Kara stiffen, and see the wounded and ashamed look on her face. “I know.”

 

         “And then you go and ignore me for a whole week, as if I wasn't hurting too because she wouldn’t come home,” Lena bitterly laughed, “that’s never been you. We’ve never ignored each other, even when we’ve been mad before, and I know this was a bigger problem but … I’m sorry, but that was really childish, and I don’t care how hard it was for you, but you should’ve taken some responsibility. It might not have been your fault, but it sure as hell wasn’t mine either.”

 

         “I know I shouldn’t have shut you out like that,” Kara replied, her voice cracking as she spoke, “and I know I should’ve told her sooner. God, all I’ve been thinking about every day since is how maybe if I’d told her everything - the panic attacks, the flashbacks, the nightmares - I could’ve helped her with her own problems. Anxiety … I know how bad it gets, and I could’ve helped her. I should’ve listened to you. I was a coward.”

 

         Lena softly sighed, twisting around in Kara’s arms, the water splashing at the movement, and gave her a grim smile, “you weren’t a coward. If there’s one thing you’re not, it’s a coward. You … you’re the bravest person I know, but even the bravest are afraid of something, and I don’t blame you for being afraid to tell them. I blame you for blaming me. I know that you haven’t been … right since seeing Mike though, and I know that you’re not you when you’re having a bad day, so really, I don’t blame you. I blame your PTSD, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it was you who said those things.”

 

         Wincing slightly as Lena’s words struck home, Kara ducked her head down, and Lena reached out to gently tilt it back up, one finger beneath Kara’s chin as she leant in and gave her a chaste kiss. “But I forgive you,” Lena told her, giving Kara a tender loving look, “I love you and I forgive you.”

 

         “Thank you,” Kara breathlessly murmured, “I can’t defend myself against any of the things you said, because they’re true, and I’m sorry I hurt you - more sorry than I could even explain - but thank you. I’m sorry.”

 

         “It’s okay,” Lena gently told her, brushing Kara’s short hair back, the length of it feeling so different as Lena ran her fingers through it, “it’s okay. I just … don’t leave me alone like that again. I don’t like the thought of us not speaking again - this was how we should’ve sorted it out then, instead of letting it spiral.”

 

         Kissing her, Kara gently cupped Lena’s cheek, before pulling back and resting her forehead against Lenas, “I won’t. I promise.”

 

         Nodding, Lena extracted herself from Kara’s arms and stood up, before she climbed out of the bath and wrapped a fluffy towel around herself. Walking into the bedroom, she made for the closet and fished out a pair of pyjamas, drying off quickly and changing into them. As she was pulling her shirt on, Kara’s warm hand stopped her in her tracks, and Lena slowly pulled it the rest of the way over her head to give Kara a questioning look. Her wife was hunched over, her hair in her face as she ran her fingers over the slightly raised edge of the red puffy scar from Lena’s surgery. Below it was a faded white one from where she’d been stabbed, and Kara sank to her knees before her, placing a gentle kiss on that one, a slight frown creasing her forehead as she stared at the scars. Pulling her back to her feet, Lena roughly kissed her - like she hadn’t done in what felt like forever - and pushed her against one of the cupboards inside the closet, Kara’s wet skin leaving little wet patches on her shirt as Lena pulled the towel off her.

 

         “Mom?”

 

         Pausing, Lena quickly scrambled for the towel and threw it at Kara, giving her an exasperated look, before she slipped out of the closet, shutting the door behind her. Daisy had head head poked in through the door, and she nudged it further open with her foot, revealing two mugs held in her hands.

 

         “Which one?” Lena asked, a slight smile playing on her lips.

 

         “Either. Both,” Daisy shrugged, stepping into the room and handing a mug over to Lena, who muttered her thanks and walked over to the bed, setting it down on the end table. Daisy hovered just inside the door, a frown on her face as she looked down at the tea in her hands, “I’d like to talk to you if it’s okay. You’re not going to bet yet, right?”

 

         Sitting on the bed, Lena patted the spot beside her, and Daisy looked relieved as she walked over, sitting down beside Lena and clutching the other cup in her hands. Lena reached out to brush her daughter’s dark hair out of her face, smiling slightly at the different style - neither of the girls had ever cut their hair so short, but Lena could understand why she’d done it. “I really do like your hair,” Lena told her.

 

         Looking up at her in surprise, Daisy smiled, “yeah?”

 

         “Mhm. I cut your mom’s when she got back from Afghanistan. Going through something big … some people need a change. Is that why you wanted to cut yours? So that you’d be different?”

 

         Hesitating slightly, Daisy slowly nodded, “I thought maybe it’d help make me feel different. A lot has changed.”

 

         “Did it work?” Lena curiously asked, tilting her head to the side.

 

         “I don’t know yet,” Daisy quietly laughed, “did you ever do anything like this? Did it work for you?”

 

         Smiling as a dozen memories crossed her mind, Lena shrugged, “I may have gone through a stage with very colourful hair. It was just after my dad died. Your grandma hated it. It did make me feel different though - more rebellious.”

 

         “What about when mom-”

 

         “No,” Lena slowly said, an uncertain look on her face, “no, I didn’t change anything then. I knew I could’ve bleached my hair and got a pixie cut, or got a body full of tattoos and pierced every part of me, and it wouldn’t have made me feel any different. Your mom … there wasn’t a part of me that would ever have been able to get over her. She changed me so much, in a way that you couldn’t see, but in a way that could never be undone, no matter what I did to myself.”

 

         “Was it really that unbearable?” Daisy quietly asked.

 

         Lena laughed, picking up her cup of tea and cradling it in her hands, “it was … the worst kind of pain. To love someone the way I love your mother … it wasn’t something I did lightly. And it’s not something that I would’ve ever been able to get over. You’ll see one day - maybe you’ve already met that person, or maybe it’ll be in five or ten years - and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I’ve been stabbed and beaten, broken so many bones and had my feelings hurt over and over again, but to lose the person you love most in the world … it was the most terrifying thing ever, and I’ve only experienced it one other time, just for a moment.”

 

         “When your brother-”

 

         “No,” Lena interrupted, an uneven smile on her face, “when I was strapped to my seat in an upside down car, right beside you, and you had your eyes closed, and there was blood on your face. Right before I passed out, I looked right at you and reached out to touch your face, and in that moment, I relived every single bit of that horror.”

 

         “I’m sorry,” Daisy choked out.

 

         Giving her a soft smile, Lena took a sip of her tea, “you’re safe now, which is all that matters.”

 

         “Mom? What if I never find a person like that?” Daisy asked, frowning as she met Lena’s eyes.

 

         Wrapping an arm around her daughter’s shoulders, Lena kissed her on the cheek. “I used to think the same, but you’re too young to worry about that yet. But if you don’t ... then you should love yourself that way, because you are brilliant and smart and kind, and you deserve to love yourself that way anyway.”

 

         Laughing, Daisy gave her a smile, resting her head on Lena’s shoulder for a brief moment. “So, where’s mom?”

 

         “Your mother,” Lena sighed, “is eavesdropping on us in the closet.”

 

         “Wha- mom! What’re you doing?” Daisy exclaimed, watching as the door opened and a fully dressed Kara walked out, a pair of fuzzy socks on her feet, and one of Lena’s old MIT t-shirts on. “Why were you eavesdropping in the closet?”

 

         Shrugging as she smiled and took the tea her daughter was holding out to her, Kara sat down on the other side of Daisy, “you two were having a moment and I didn’t want to interrupt. You said you wanted to talk to us both?”

 

         Shaking her head, Daisy focused on the reason why she’d come here in the first place, fiddling with her hands, the fingernails all bitten down and looking painfully sore. Lena tutted, reaching out to take one of her daughter’s hands in her own, running her fingertip across the top of one of Daisy’s jagged nails - they hadn’t been like that earlier on, which meant she’d been worried about something.

 

         “Whatever it is, you can tell us,” Kara gently told her, and Daisy looked up, her blue eyes crinkling slightly at the corners.

 

         “I know, I just- I don’t know how to say it,” Daisy said, struggling to find the words as her mom’s stared at her with concern, “I-I want to- I mean, therapy is good. I think it’s helping - I haven’t had as many panic attacks, and the new lady is nice - but I was wondering if I could … I’d like to see a psychiatrist as well.”

 

         Blinking in surprise, Lena looked past her daughter to watch a similar look of surprise dawn in her wife’s eyes, and Kara quickly looked at her, before looking back at Daisy. Their daughter being so forward with how she wanted to help herself was surprising to them all, and Lena was impressed by the fact that she had the courage to come to them and ask, rather than taking Lena’s avoidant approach, where she’d practically been forced into it. Clearing her throat slightly, Kara tried to keep the surprise out of her voice, “oh so … you want to go on medication?” Nodding, Daisy sat there in silence, clearing done with talking for the moment, and Lena nodded to Kara, silently encouraging to keep going. “Well, I think that’s a great idea if it’s what you want to do. Your mom and I have both been on some before for our own problems, and it helped us a lot, so I think that it could help you too. How about I call and see if we can set you up with an appointment, yeah?”

 

         “Yes please,” Daisy breathlessly agreed, looking mildly relieved that they’d said yes, and Lena gave her hand a gentle squeeze, smiling when blue eyes met her own.

 

         Returning the smile, Daisy climbed to her feet, leaning down to kiss both of her moms on the cheek and say goodnight. Murmuring their own replies, Lena and Kara watched as she walked towards the door, and Lena called out after her, watching as her daughter turned around with an expectant look on her face. “I’m proud of you,” Lena told her, smiling slightly, and Daisy smiled back, nodding, before she stepping out into the hallway and shut the door behind her.

 

         Draining her cup of tea, Lena set the empty cup down on the end table and climbed to her feet, pulling the blankets back and settling back down in bed. She watched as Kara did the same, and a moment later, when she was cuddled up beside Lena, she spoke. “Well … I think our little girl is starting to take some responsibility for herself,” Lena said with surprise.

Chapter Text

          The rest of March passed by in a flurry of blooming flowers and a shock of green as all the skeletal trees flowered again, and spring well and truly came. With it came the light feeling that accompanied the fresh air and the weak sunlight, and at the Luthor estate, everything was getting better and better, on an upwards trajectory after their deep downwards spiral. Lena went back to work full-time, home by five everyday, and Kara worked alternate days with Lillian, choosing to stay home and focus on their family while she let her work take a backseat. Everyday, the five of them ate breakfast together, before they all went their separate ways - Lena to the office, Daisy and Lily to school, and Lillian either stayed at home or went to the lab - and then they’d start coming home, one by one, finding the house smelling of whatever Kara had cooked for dinner, looking neat and tidy after a day of her fussing around the place. They fell into a comfortable routine of therapy, dinner with Alex and Maggie, chemo treatments for Lillian, and the girls’ extracurricular activities, and every night, Lena fell asleep in Kara’s arms, her heart feeling lighter with each perfectly normal day.

 

          It was a Saturday - a day they reserved for family time - but for now, everyone else was in bed, and it was just Kara and Lena taking a stroll through the gardens in the early morning light, watching as the peachy sky started turning to an eggshell blue as the sun rose higher and higher. Artemis ran ahead, before doubling back, run laps as her owners walked after her at a leisurely pace, Lena’s hand holding onto Kara’s arm as they made their way towards the stables at the far end of the estate. They stopped at the wire fence enclosing their few grazing horses in the field of fresh long grass, leaning against it as they watched the horses wander around aimlessly.

 

          “So, there’s something I want to talk about,” Kara hesitantly started after a few moments of silence, and Lena immediately turned to look up at her.

 

          “Oh? It sounds serious.”

 

          “Well, it is.”

 

          Arching an eyebrow, Lena gave her an expectant look, “please don’t tell me there’s something else wrong now. You’re not dying of something are you? Thinking of divorce.”

 

          She gave Kara a wry smile, and Kara burst into laughter, reaching out to cup Lena’s cheek and run her thumb over her prominent cheekbone. “No. It’s actually quite the opposite. I was just thinking … let’s get married again.”

 

          “Married again?” Lena spluttered.

 

          “We’ve had a rough time, but we came out the other end loving each other just as strongly,” Kara explained, “let’s just … renew our vows. We’ll have all our family there again, and the girls. Just the nine of us. We need something fun and light.”

 

          “Was there something wrong with our vows the first time?” Lena laughed, reaching out to brush a short lock of Kara’s hair out of her face.

 

          “You know they were perfect.”

 

          Looking out at Lily’s grey mare, Lena pondered Kara’s idea, thinking back to their wedding in the south of France, with the small church, the butterflies and the cobbled streets. And Kara. Kara in a white dress, waiting for her at the altar, the feeling of her soft lips beneath Lena’s as they tied themselves to each other, the tears in her eyes the moment she had laid eyes on Lena. It had been perfect - one of the most beautiful moments in their lives - and Lena realised that she wanted that feeling again. Why shouldn’t they renew their vows? Why shouldn’t they have that happiness again? Turning to look at Kara, Lena gave her a crooked smile, her face softening slightly, and she leant in to steal a quick kiss from her wife.

 

          “Okay.”

 

          “Okay?”

 

          “Let’s do it.”

 

          Face lighting up, Kara gave her a look of surprise, “really?”

 

          Laughing, Lena reached out to cup Kara’s chin, “why do you sound surprised that I would say yes? I’d marry you all over again, every single day if you wanted me to. But, I also want to, so let’s do it.”

 

          Kissing her, Kara smiled into it, and Lena threaded her fingers through her blonde locks, leaning into it. They broke apart and rested their foreheads against each others for a few moments, before Kara enveloped her in a tight hug, and Lena’s eyes fluttered closed as she breathed in the smell of Kara’s perfume and laundry detergent, the fresh air gently ruffling their hair. Feeling the gentle brush of Kara’s lips against her cheek, Lena smiled, giving her a quick squeeze, before she drew back and reached for Kara’s hand. They turned around and walked back towards the house, laughing and talking along the way. Reaching for the door handle, Kara waved Lena inside and let out a sharp whistle for Artemis, who came running, her tail wagging and a stick clamped between her teeth. Lena was kicking off her boots inside the cloakroom, laughing as she watched Kara wrestle the stick off the puppy, who was rapidly growing, and big enough to put up a bit of a fight now. After a few moments, Kara had the stick clutched in her hand and threw it away, letting out an exclamation of surprise when Artemis took off after the stick, and Lena burst into laughter, grabbing her wife’s hand and pulling her inside as she left their dog to run around the garden with her stick. Shutting the door behind her, Kara took her windbreaker off and pulled off her boots, before she followed after Lena, who was already walking towards the kitchen.

 

          Soon enough the smell of fresh coffee and sizzling bacon was pervading the room as Kara and Lena cooked side by side, the radio playing soft music as they cracked eggs into a pan and buttered toast. And then Kara was pulling Lena into the space between the counters and the kitchen island, and Lena groaned as Kara put her hand on her waist and started swaying. Sighing as she shook her head, giving her wife and exasperated look, Lena put her hand on Kara’s shoulder, her lips pressed together as she gave her an amused look. Kara spun her out, and Lena laughed, before she came to a stop, looking at her daughter, who was hovering in the kitchen doorway with raised eyebrows.

 

          “Oh, Daisy.”

 

          “Morning.”

 

          She shuffled into the kitchen, yellow duck slippers padding across the floor and her Ravenclaw nightdress falling to her knees. In her hands she clutched a large envelope, and Lena arched an eyebrow as she watched her walk over to the island and took a seat on one of the stools, hugging the envelope to her chest.

 

          “Coffee?” Lena asked.

 

          “Really?” Daisy asked, giving Lena a surprised look.

 

          Shrugging, Lena turned around and grabbed a clean mug, giving Kara a helpless look as she filled the mug up and added sugar and milk, before setting it down in front of their daughter.

 

          Kara set another plate down on the counter, fishing bacon and eggs out of the pan and adding some more, before she dished up breakfast for them both, setting a plate down in front of Daisy, whose short hair fell into her face as she stared at the cup of coffee with a brooding look on her face. Lena shared a look with Kara, wondering what was on their daughter’s mind, and she walked around the counter with her breakfast, setting her plate down beside Daisy and pulling her own cup of coffee towards her.

 

          “So, um, I’ve had this for a few weeks now,” Daisy said, glancing up at Kara and giving Lena a quick look, before looking back down at the envelope, “I didn’t open it because I wasn’t sure … but I know what it is. I think I’m ready to open it now.”

 

          “What’s going on?” Kara gently asked, resting her elbows on the counter as she leant towards her daughter.

 

          Setting the large white envelope down on the counter, Daisy looked at Lena, watching as a flicker of recognition crossed her mom’s face. The red and grey logo of MIT was emblazoned on the front corner of the envelope, and Lena quickly looked up at her daughter, surprise in her eyes. “You applied?”

 

          “Yeah,” Daisy murmured, “back before … everything. I applied anyway. And … I got a reply.”

 

          A hesitant look on her face, Kara reached out and slid the envelope around towards her, “you got in.”

 

          Smiling slightly, Daisy looked up, shrugging as she looked at her mom, “I got in.”

 

          She didn’t have to open the thick envelope to know, and Lena stared down at the envelope so similar to the one she had received all those years ago, also knowing what the words inside the envelope would say. As Daisy reached for it, Lena covered her daughter’s hand with her own, stopping her in her tracks. “It’s okay if you- if you don’t want to go. You know what it says, but if you don’t want to … you don’t have to go to college. We shouldn’t have told you that you had to go.”

 

          Nodding, Daisy reached for it anyway, sliding a finger under the tab and tearing it open, pulling out an acceptance letter along with other information about the college. Reading through it, a small smile played on her lips, and when she finished reading it, she set it aside and got started on her food. No one said anything else, and a few minutes later, Kara was sitting on her other side, the three of them eating quietly. It wasn’t too long before Lillian wandered downstairs, looking pale and tired from her latest round of treatment, and she walked into the kitchen, waving away Lena’s help to fetch her some coffee. With a mug in hand, Lillian rounded the counter, pausing slightly as her eyes landed on the letter.

 

          “What’s this?”

 

          Despite her previous reservations, Daisy gave Lillian a smile, looking pleased with herself, a flicker of triumph in her blue eyes as she picked up the letter and held it out to her grandma. “I got into MIT.”

 

          “You- wha- oh. Oh. That’s incredible. Well done, dear,” Lillian said, giving her a proud smile, “I’m not surprised at all though; you’ve got your mother’s brains.”

 

          “No, we’re just rich,” Daisy snorted, ducking her head down as she looked at the letter again.

 

          “Oh come on, don't sell yourself short. You have perfect grades,” Lena said, giving her a gentle nudge, “and you work hard in school.”

 

          Letting out a snort of laughter, Daisy rolled her eyes, “and my grandmother paid for a new wing in the engineering building when my mother was at school there.”

 

          Shrugging, Lillian took a seat, “there’s nothing wrong with that. I wanted to make sure they had the best technology so that your mother could learn from the best.”

 

          “Yeah, well, I’m not sure everyone will see it like that, grandma,” Daisy sighed.

 

          “If you decide to go, your mom and I won’t donate anything if that’s what you want,” Lena laughed.

 

          “Why wouldn’t she go?” Lillian scoffed.

 

          Daisy let out a quick laugh, “because I have acceptance letters from every ivy league college, and half a dozen others, hidden up in my room.”

 

          “Christ, how many did you apply for, love?” Lena quietly exclaimed.

 

          “Fifteen,” Daisy shrugged, “just in case.”

 

          “Well, just because you got accepted, it doesn’t mean you have to go,” Kara soothingly told her, reaching out to gently squeeze her daughter’s shoulder. They all knew that Daisy had her reservations about college, and knowing about her anxiety, they could finally understand why, but a large part of it had also been about the army, which was off the table now. Now, none of them really knew where she stood on the topic - including Daisy - but Lena and Kara didn’t have to say anything to each other to know that they both agreed not to push her.

 

          “I applied to Julliard as well,” Daisy shrugged, “not sure I want to be a pianist though. If I go - if - then I think it’ll be MIT.”

 

          Nodding, Lena gave her an encouraging look, “well it’s okay, whatever you decide, and we’re proud of you no matter what. This is huge! Fifteen acceptances.”

 

          Smiling slightly, Daisy ducked her head down, and Kara leant over to kiss the top of her head. They tried not to fuss too much, not wanting to pressure her into making a decision, but they made it very clear just how proud they were of her, and Lena knew that Kara would be able to understand how overwhelming it was, and started on the dishes, while they quietly talked. Lillian was making herself some porridge beside her, and she when Lena glanced at her she saw that Lillian was staring intently at her, and Lena blinked in surprise, one plate halfway in the dishwasher.

 

          “What is it?”

 

          “You seem … happier. And it’s not just about Daisy.”

 

          Lena blushed slightly, putting the plate into the dishwasher before she straightened up, feeling slightly flustered as she looked at Lillian. “No,” Lena agreed, “it’s, uh, well, Kara and I are going to renew our wedding vows. We just decided this morning.”

 

          “Oh. God, you’ve been married long enough to do that now,” Lillian nostalgically sighed, smiling as she reached out to give Lena’s shoulder a quick squeeze, “I think it’s a great idea.”

 

          “Yeah?”

 

          “Mhm. Just … do me a favour. Do it soon, so that I can have something to look forward to.”

 

          Lena froze, blanching slightly at her mom’s words, “wha- no, you-”

 

          “Are fine,” Lillian finished for her, giving her a wavering smile, “I was hoping we could take later. Just me and you.”

 

          “Can we talk now?” Lena hoarsely asked.

 

          Sighing, Lillian looked at her bowl of porridge, grimacing as she picked it up and grabbed a spoon, before she walked out of the room, with quizzical looks off her daughter-in-law and granddaughter, and Lena trailed after her, giving Kara a fearful look. She didn’t say anything as she followed after Lillian, a lump forming in her throat, which she tried to swallow as her eyes prickled with tears. Lillian led them to the office she’d claimed for herself, and Lena shut the door behind her, hovering just inside the room as she watched her mother walk over to the leather sofa and begin to eat her breakfast. Staring at her, Lena balled her hands into fists, her eyes burning as she watched the shaky way Lillian held her bowl in her hands.

 

          “Well? Aren’t you going to sit down?” Lillian asked after a few moments, rolling her eyes.

 

          Crossing over to the sofa, Lena sat down beside her, her hands still curled into fists to stop them from shaking, and she couldn’t even look at her mom as she suppressed the urge to burst into tears. “How long do you have?”

 

          “It’s hard to say,” Lillian told her, calmly enjoying her breakfast while Lena held her head in her hands, running her trembling fingers through her dark hair.

 

          “Well just say,” Lena snapped, sitting up as her eyes filled with tears, “tell me how long they gave you.”

 

          Letting out a soft laugh, Lillian set her bowl down, reaching out for Lena’s hands and holding them in her own cold, thin ones, her skin so fragile and wrinkled that it felt like paper. She pressed her lips together in a line, and it took Lena a few moments to realise she wasn’t grimacing - she was suppressing a smile. “It’s been five months, Lena. Five months of treatments and doctors appointments, of being sick and tired and in pain. And that was the last one.”

 

          Wrenching her hands back, Lena gave her an angry look, “like hell am I letting you quit now. You promised you’d be okay, you can’t just stop halfway through-”

 

          “I’m in remission.”

 

          “Wha- you- you’re not … dying?” Lena hesitantly asked, her forehead furrowing in confusion, “but-”

 

          Lillian let out a quick laugh, her eyes sparkling with mirth, “I’m in remission. I don’t know how long I have because I’m not going to die from this. I’m going to be okay, Lena. The cancer’s gone - for now - and that’s all that matters.”

 

          Bursting into tears anyway, Lena threw herself at her mom, wrapping her arms around her shoulders as she hugged her tightly and sobbed, her tears soaking into the silk shirt that Lillian was wearing as she soothingly rubbed Lena’s back. It was a while before she was able to get herself under control, sobbing out of relief, rather than anything else, and feeling so overwhelmed by the range of emotions she’d already been put through by sudden surprises sprung on her, and it was only just breakfast time. By the time she finally calmed down, her eyes were red and puffy and she couldn’t stop the occasional shudder as a sob wracked her shoulders, but she also couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she hugged Lillian, breathing in the smell of her mother’s perfume, making her feel like a little girl all over again - although, admittedly, they’d never been this affectionate, even when she was a child. The smell was comforting though, as was the solid - if a little frail - feeling of her mom in her embrace as they hugged, the warmth of her radiating through her thin shirt, so very real and alive.

 

          By the time she made it downstairs, Lily was up as well, and everyone looked at Lena as she walked into the kitchen, unable to keep the smile off her face, even though her bloodshot eyes betrayed the fact that she’d been crying. Lillian followed after her, and Lena let out a quick laugh at the confused looks on everyone’s faces as they wondered why she’d been crying, knowing that it couldn’t have been bad because of the smile on her face.

 

          “So, good news,” Lillian brusquely said, taking a seat at the kitchen table, “I’m in remission.”

 

          The room was filled with everyone’s excited exclamations, and Kara walked over to Lena, wrapping her in a gentle hug, while Lily and Daisy both gave Lillian a kiss on the cheek, and they all laughed and smiled as they made tea and crowded around the table, their spirits higher than ever in the wake of the good news. It wasn’t a definite cancer free declaration, but it was better than they’d hoped for at this stage, and Lena was filled with relief. This whole day have been a whirlwind of good news, each one more surprising than the other, and Lena smiled as she looked at her daughters.

 

          “Hey, so your mom and I were thinking … and we’re going to get married again,” Lena said, brightly smiling as she turned to look at Kara, “just our family, and we’ll renew our vows again and you two can be there this time.”

 

          “Really?” Lily asked, her face lighting up.

 

          “Mhm.”

 

          Kara reached out and gently covered Lena’s hand with her own, capturing her wife’s attention, “I’m going to ask Mike if he’d like to get coffee next week, so that we can talk.”

 

          Lena blinked in surprise, before a slow smile spread across her face - she knew how hard it was for Kara to agree to that - and she couldn’t help but feel proud of how far she’d come, from the woman five months ago who’d had her whole life shaken up by bumping into him, to getting the help she needed and the courage to face the man she shared unspeakable memories with. “That’s great.”

 

          “You’ll come, right?”

 

          “Of course,” Lena assured her, before she looked back at everyone else, “anyone else?”

 

          “I’m going to accept my spot at MIT,” Daisy blurted out, “I think I knew I was going to when I told you about it. I didn’t tell you when the letter came because I was still unsure, but I think I told you because I was sure, and so I’m accepting it. For computer science.”

 

          Letting out a sound of surprise, Lena smiled brightly at her daughter, her heart swelling with pride and happiness, and Kara was quick to express her happiness at it, while Lillian told her how thrilled she was that she would be going there. As the fuss died down again, Lena looked at Lily, raising her eyebrows slightly in amusement.

 

          “Lily?”

          

          Huffing, her daughter gave her an exasperated look as she crossed her arms over her chest, “I’m too young to have any exciting news.”

 

          "Please stay that way forever," Lena sighed, giving her daughter a wistful look.

 

          So much had changed, and so had everyone along the way, and Lena wanted her daughter to cling to her childhood for a little while longer so that she could pretend that she still had her little girls. Right now, she had them all with her though, and they were doing better than they had been in a while, which was more than enough for her.

Chapter Text

            The week passed by quickly and Daisy accepted her place at MIT and Kara called Mike. On Thursday morning, they made frittatas together for breakfast, the radio staticky as it played the jazz station that Lillian preferred, the spring air blowing in through the window as the smell of eggs cooking mixed with the rich smell of coffee. They both had work off that day - an agreement had been made between Kara and Mike that they would bring Lena and Imra - and they’d both stayed in bed longer than usual, the TV playing the morning news while Lena did the crossword from the newspaper she’d gone downstairs to fetch when she made them their first cup of coffee. Dressed casually for the day, Kara had the sleeves of her pale blue shirt rolled up, exposing her wrists as she made lunch for the girls, and Lena smiled, knowing that she’d worn the colour to match her eyes because Lena loved the way it made them look even bluer. When Lily bounded into the room a little while later, her tie clutched in her hand and her shirt buttoned unevenly, Lena shook her head, rounding the counters and beckoning for the tie, before she gestured towards the buttons.

 

            “You’re going to get sent to the office if you don’t wear your uniform properly,” Lena warned her, looping the tie around her own neck as she frowned slightly, tying it for her daughter before taking it off and holding it out to her.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lily looped it around her own neck and tightened it, letting Lena fix her collar for her. “Isn’t Miss Ardeen not going to be at school today? Mom said that you were getting coffee.”

 

            “Doesn’t mean you can’t get detention,” Kara told her, giving her a stern look.

 

            “Please,” Daisy drawled as she walked into the kitchen, her favourite black denim jacket pulled over her white shirt, her socks rolled down and her hair a mess of wild curls, “she’s the teacher’s pet. I doubt she’d ever do anything wrong in her life.”

 

            “She beat a girl up not too long ago, in case you forgot,” Lena curtly replied.

 

            “Grandma said you used to get into fights all the time,” Daisy said, jumping up onto the counter and stealing a piece of toast off Kara’s plate, dodging the swat that her mother sent her way.

 

            Kissing Lily on the top of her head, Lena gave her a gentle push towards the kitchen to go and eat breakfast, giving Daisy and exasperated look as she walked over to the counter and picked up her coffee. “And that’s why I got into trouble all the time.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Daisy shoved the rest of the toast into her mouth and jumped down off the counter, pulling her socks up properly and running a hand through her unruly hair. Shaking her head, Lena kissed her on the cheek and helped Kara finish packing their lunches. Lillian came in towards the end, looking tired with the dark circles under her eyes, but all business as she rifled through her briefcase, making sure she had everything while Lena told her where to drop the girls off to school, while Lillian sighed, insisting that she didn’t need Lena to tell her how to drop her granddaughter’s off at school. By the time the three of them had left, with kisses on cheeks and the assurances that they’d all stay out of trouble, the house was considerably quieter, leaving Lena alone with her wife and an over zealous puppy who was itching to go outside. Lena thought the fresh air might do Kara some good before meeting with her old teammate, and she was quick to suggest a walk through the gardens, slipping through the opening of the maze with Kara in tow, her hand brushing the neatly trimmed hedges as they wound their way through the twisting pathways. She knew the place like the back of her hand, and they soon came out the other side, facing a large statue set in the middle of a fountain, and rows of bushes, just flowering with the first roses of the new year, and Lena picked a particularly lovely peach one for Kara, handing it over to her with an accompanying kiss.

 

            By the time they were in one of Lena’s fast cars, the smell of leather seats comforting as she drove them down their long driveway, Kara was considerably more relaxed than Lena had expected her to be, but she wasn’t oblivious to the clenched fists and the right leg that was bouncing up and down as Kara watched the empty fields flash by. Reaching over, Lena covered one of her hands with her own and Kara turned to look at her, an expectant look on her face, which softened at the concern in Lena’s eyes.

 

            “I’m just thinking about how strange it’ll be to actually have a conversation with him,” Kara murmured, “I’ve barely said a dozen words to him since we were both rescued over there. The last time we spoke, it was probably to tell him to keep going. That we were almost there.”

 

            “I’ll be right beside you the whole time,” Lena promised.

 

            Giving her hand a quick squeeze, Kara gave her a small smile and turned to look back out the window, the fields giving way to the poorer neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city. They followed the highway through the buildings, joining the flow of traffic as they headed towards the busier districts with the towering apartment buildings and glass and chrome companies, coming to a stop at L-Corp so that they could park their car and walk the few blocks to the coffee shop they had agreed to meet at. Lena was sure to hold Kara’s hand on the walk, rubbing soothing circled onto the back of it and occasionally lifting it to press a kiss to their entwined fingers, earning a smile off her wife every time, and they passed by bistros and boutiques on their way, commenting on small things as Lena tried to stem Kara’s nerves. Outside the coffee shop, looking at the name printed on the windows and the white awning overhead, Kara paused, looking in through the windows, and Lena followed her line of sight, taking in the headmistress she was familiar with dealing with, and the brown haired man leaning in close as they talked, his face also familiar but without the personal experience that she shared with his wife.

 

            “Are you sure?” Lena asked, checking just once more than Kara wanted to see him.

 

            Nodding, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat, “yes. I need to do it - I need closure. He’s the one thing I’ve never been able to get past. The one reminder.”

 

            “Well, let’s go and get you a cappuccino and a panini then,” Lena said, giving her hand a quick squeeze and opening the door.

 

            Usually she would’ve graciously let Kara through first, but today she was feeling protective, and walked inside, watching as Imra’s head came up at the chiming of the bell, straightening up in her seat as she laid eyes on Lena, who raised her chin slightly. Letting go of Kara’s hand, Lena pressed her fingertips to her back, gently ushering her wife in after her, before she wound her way through the collection of tables and chairs, making for the table that they’d picked out in the back corner. With a small start, she realised that Mike was sitting in the corner, his back to the wall, realising for the first time that it was something Kara did too. A way to give herself a view of the entrances, so no one could sneak up on her, and for the first time, Lena faltered slightly, knowing that she didn’t really resent this man for messing things up for her family. He’d been through just as much as Kara, and he’d come out the other end with the same self-preservation and struggles.

 

            He looked up when he realised his wife’s attention was elsewhere, his eyes widening slightly as he slowly rose to his feet. Kara warily followed after Lena, a look of reservation on her face, but a stubborn set to her shoulders, and when Lena pulled out the chair opposite Imra, Kara ignored it and picked the one across from Mike, giving him a hesitant smile as she pulled her chair out.

 

            “Kara, hi,” he hesitantly started, slowly easing himself back down into his own seat.

 

            “Mike,” Kara greeted him with a small nod, “thanks for coming. This is, uh, this is my wife. Lena.”

 

            He quickly held his hand out to her, and Lena shook it, giving him a cool look as she remembered the first time she’d met him, when he’d come to meet her outside L-Corp, slipping her his number to pass onto Kara. “Right. Lena. Nice to see you again. Well, you both know Imra.”

 

            “Miss Ardeen,” Lena curtly nodded, and the headmistress smiled at her, her hands clasped in front of her on the table as she smiled at Kara too. They all fell quiet for a moment, and Lena pushed her chair back, “how about some coffee? What can I get for you? Cappuccino, Kara?”

 

            “Please,” Kara nodded, still sneaking glances at Mike, taking in the stubble and the signs of ageing that he hadn’t had when they were in the army. He was likewise sneaking glances at her, and Imra gently cleared her throat.

 

            “I’ll come and help,” Imra offered, but Lena waved her help away, not wanting to leave her wife alone with the man she’d suffer